Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Despite the country’s small scale, Swiss data scientists, engineers, graphic designers and visionaries have drawn up an amazing collection of maps over the course of centuries. It all started in 1479 when the first ever depiction of this Alpine confederation appeared (It essentially shows an island of mountains surrounded by starry skies.)
Around Switzerland in 80 Maps
It took the relentless passion of a naturalized Brit to uncover 80 Swiss maps – some of which should be designated as national treasures. Diccon Bewes, known for the bestseller Swiss Watching, has been researching maps in archives and libraries for nearly two years.
His findings have now been published in Around Switzerland in 80 Maps. We are amazed at the diversity of historic and contemporary maps, spanning a period of more than 500 years.
Take the livestock map of 1941: Situated in the middle of the World War II theater, Switzerland went to great lengths to inventory their cows, goats, and pigs.
Then in the 1970’s, Zürich published a nightlife map pointing out the places to be. Geared at the male population, this particular map included bars, (strip) clubs and locations where to find sex. Who knew that this protestant city was actually quite liberal back then?
Other maps are more utopian: There is a hypothetical subway map for Zürich which never materialized (except for the brief Milchbuck tunnel as a proof of concept). Lausanne, on the other hand, went all the way and built Switzerland’s first (and only) metro system:
One of our favorite maps is by Ursula Hitz, a young Swiss graphic designer based in the UK. Her “Mountains of art” is a carefully assembled typography map of Swiss peaks. Hitz cleverly uses the names and altitudes of 41 mountains to draw an outline of Switzerland:
As we are browsing through Around Switzerland in 80 Maps, a large hardcover book, it becomes obvious that the format was picked with map lovers in mind: Each map is big enough to make out details, inviting us to explore.
We can vouch that thanks to this fabulous collection, you will see Switzerland from at least 80 new perspectives…
Available in any bookshop in Switzerland (in English, German or French)
Order online: ISBN 978-2-940481-14-9 (English, 224 pages)