Historic map of Belgium goes digital

The oldest known map of Belgium, which dates back to the middle of the 18th century, is now available online to the general public for the first time.

The Vilaret map, named after the French engineer-geographer Jean Villaret, was created between 1745-1748 during a time where the French controlled the Belgian territories following the Battle of Fontenoy. Keen to know more about their newly conquered area, the French sent a team, including Villaret, to map out region. Villaret was in charge of mapping the areas between Menin, Ghent andTournai as well as from Maastricht to Liège.

The finished hand drawn documents contained over 80 pages of maps and are currently kept at the Institut géographique national de France in Saint Mande, to the east of Paris. The maps have been accessible to students, academics and researchers via the Limo platform since 2015 but are now being made public for the first time.

You can view the maps for free on geopunt.be.