The two detailed vistas capture the Danish capital city from different vantage points, emphasizing its role as an important seaport and trading center. The top view from the mainland shows the tall spire of the Church of Our Lady on the left and a castle on the right. Horse drawn coaches approach the city through fields dotted with windmills. The bottom view captures the bustling maritime activity, from the vantage of one of the offshore islands that shelter the harbor. Tall ships are docked in the waters and mercantile buildings the shore. A rowboat approaches a small group of men who gesture to them from a small outcropping connected to a row of boulders.
Braun & Hogenberg were co-publishers of the monumental Civitates Orbis Terrarum, the earliest systematic city atlas. Designed as a companion to Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum world atlas, this enormous work, which was expanded to incorporate over 500 plans and views, is one of the most ambitious book publishing ventures of all time, and certainly among the greatest achievements in the history of cartography. Georg Braun, a Canon of Cologne Cathedral, compiled the accompanying text, printed on the reverse. Most of the engravings were made by Simon Novellanus and Frans Hogenberg. Many of the plates were engraved after original drawings by Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1600), who travelled extensively throughout Europe.
Caption center: Hafnia vulgo Copenhagen urbs Daniae primaria qua se terra marique conspiciendam exhiber. Anno Salutis M.D. LXXXVII. [Hafnia, commonly known as Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, a noteworthy sight on land and on water. In the year 1587.]