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Oldest map of Belgium goes digital

11:26 06/06/2017

The oldest map of Belgium, the Villaret map, is now digitally available, reports Knack. The map, named after French engineer-geographer Jean Villaret, dates from the period 1745-1748, well before Belgium's independence in 1830.

The Villaret map was created in the period following one of France's many conquests in the region. The French sent a group of engineer-geographers to map the newly conquered areas, and among them was Jean Villaret. He was in charge of mapping the area between Menin-Ghent-Tournai and Maastricht-Liège. The Villaret map consists of more than 80 pages.

"The map gives a rich picture of our cultural landscape and its evolution, which is particularly interesting information for heritage researchers, landscape and monument managers and archeology agencies,” says the Flanders Heritage Agency, which digitalised the map. “Whether one's interested in land use, landscape elements, abbey domains, habitation, historic roads or toponyms, the map is a new benchmark."

The Villaret map is available for free on

Written by Robyn Boyle