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Cairo, by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg.


Cairus, quae olim Babylon; Aegypti Maxima Urbs, 1599.

€420  ($453.6 / £365.4)
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Item Number:  23951
Category:  Antique maps > Africa

Old map - bird's-eye view of Cairo by Braun and Hogenberg, with key to locations.

Translation of caption: Cairo, earlier Babylon; very large city in Egypt.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Cairo is said to number 30,000 houses altogether. There are very many princely palaces and temples here, but also many hospices, schools and baths and large buildings containing the tombs of important persons. The streets contain such a throng of people, horses and mules that it is not possible to pass without obstacle. [...] The women, too, wear trousers, made of silk, trimmed with pearls and precious gems, like the men. The men are also allowed to have several wives."

The city of Cairo, made up of highly uniform cubic houses interpersed with minarets and gardens, is seen from the right bank of the Nile. Running down the right hand side is a schematic range of high hills on which the pyramids and the Sphinx can be seen. The accompanying Latin text says of the Sphinx: "This head consists of a single piece of stone; the face alone is ten lesser hexapedes (a measure of length equal to six feet) long. According to Strabo, it is a monument to a beautiful, tragic hetaera named Rhodopis. The king took her as his wife and after her death he had this head and pyramid built for her." The Latin text at the top runs: "These pyramids were nothing but an idle display of royal wealth. In this way the kings, or rather the crowned beasts, namely hoped to make their names immortal on earth and to keep their memory alive for a long time. Nothing in the world is of less fame, however, since neither the architect nor the insane king who built a pyramid is recorded." Daily life is illustrated in the left-hand foreground, where women in veils are riding donkeys and a man is picking dates. In 1517 Cairo became part of the Ottoman Empire and is today the capital of Egypt with some eight million inhabitants. (Taschen)
Date of the first edition: 1572
Date of this map: 1599

Copper engraving
Size: 33 x 49cm (12.9 x 19.1 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Uncoloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 4, 736; Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.132

From: Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber Primus. Köln, Bertram Buchholtz, 1599. (Van der Krogt 4, 41:1.1)