Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Bird's eye view of modern Jerusalem, with index in German, by Wartensleben, 1868.

The National Library of Israel has released a collection of 200 high-resolution unique maps of Jerusalem, part of the Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, in collaboration with Wikimedia Israel. The collection of ancient maps, spanning from 1486 to 1947, contains a variety of styles and languages. Wikimedia Israel encourages the Wikimaps community to use the maps in Wikimedia initiatives and other open source projects.

Eran Laor (née Erich Landstein) was the manager of a shipping company in Haifa, and an author, who accumulated an enormous collection of some 4,500 maps, which he donated at the end of his days to the national library.

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The Eran Laor Cartographic Collection is a physical and virtual collection of maps, the heart of which comprises ancient maps, atlases and travel books to the Holy Land and as such, it is the largest of its kind in the world. The collection also includes maps and atlases of other locations. In addition, the collection includes scientific literature on the Holy Land, studies about the historical geography of the Holy Land, Bible dictionaries, and copies of early Bibles that feature maps. The main part of the collection are the maps which were donated to the library by the late Eran Laor.

Plan of ancient Jerusalem after Villalpando. Beneath it view of Jerusalem after Merian. By Seutter, 18th century.

The heart of the collection includes 1,500 ancient maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, alongside ancient maps of other parts of the world. The collection also includes surveyor maps of Eretz Israel beginning in the mid-19th century, as well as modern maps of Israel, cities in Israel, and neighboring countries prior to the establishment of the State and to this day.

The maps in the collection are in various European languages, as well as in Hebrew, Yiddish and Arabic. In addition, the collection includes companion works on the history of cartography, as well as academic journals and reference books.

All of the maps in the collection are catalogued on-line. In addition, the bibliographic entries for the ancient maps of the Holy Land and Jerusalem, as well as for all of the other scanned maps, include a link that enables direct access to the map.

The collection serves as a leading resource for students and scholars in the disciplines of ancient and modern cartography, as well as in other realms, including historical geography, general history, art history, Jewish history, the history of Israel and the Diaspora, architecture, urban planning, and Jerusalem studies. Among those who make use of the collection are scholars, curators, students and visitors from Israel and around the world.

The Temple of Jerusalem. Hoffmann. 18th century
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