Full introduction


The 38th IMCoS International Symposium will highlight the early Belgian contributions to the development of cartography worldwide. These include the introduction of triangulation techniques (Frisius, van Deventer), first world atlases (Ortelius, Mercator) and the first navigation map to use the Mercator projection.

This extraordinary history will include the Golden Age of Flemish Cartography as well as masterpieces of the later periods, from Michiel van Langren’s work on selenography (seventeenth century) to Count Ferraris’ Austrian mapping activities (eighteenth century), and Vandermaelen’s Map library (nineteenth century).

The visits to Belgian collections will also reveal cartographic works from Dutch, Italian, French and English origins.

The image of the Pythagorean tetrad stems from an early ninth-century manuscript in the Royal Library of Belgium which contains amongst other texts, Isidore of Seville’s De natura rerum. It provides an excellent summary of all topics which will be presented and discussed during the conference: the earth element stands for terrestrial cartography; the air for celestial cartography; the water for the portolans and sea charts, and the fire for maps related to warfare and fortifications plans.

This Symposium is planned as a three-day event, opening with an reception on the evening of 11 October 2021 at the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR). It will comprise speaker presentations at the KBR and visits to collections/institutions holding remarkable map collections: the State Archives of Belgium, the Art & History Museum, the Royal Military Museum. An official dinner will close the conference on 14 October 2021.

The Symposium will be open to cartographers, geographers, historians, map collectors, land surveyors, curators and everyone with an interest in maps.