The very first map ever was a painting in a cave and it showed not the earth but the night sky. It was found inside the famous caves of Lascaux and was dated back to 16.500 B.C. The earliest surviving map of the world is incised on a clay tablet and it shows, well, just a part of the world. The world seen by the Babylonians. But the maps which fascinate me the most are the old maps from the 15th to the 20th century, when there where still so many white spots on the maps, when maps where illustrated with plenty of great paintings. Hint: you can click on every picture to enlarge.

Map of the world, 1717

This map above shows the world as seen in 1717, not only coastal lines are inaccurate, it also shows California as an island! It’s illustrated with portraits of great explorers like Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) and Marco Polo (1254 – 1324). I could stare at it for hours and read every single detail, imagining myself being on an old sailing ship ready to discover the world. I think there’s a special magic about these old maps and I’m not only talking about the history part. It makes me think of travelling in a time when travelling itself was an adventure. When so much of the world was still a white spot on a map, when behind every corner of the ocean a new world was waiting to be discovered. When I first found out about Old maps online I knew I could call it a day, because I was so into this site that the world around me just stopped. Here you can search for old maps via a geographical search, with keywords and by date. How cool is that, right? I spent, well, A LOT of time looking for cool maps to share with you.

Map of Cuba, 1853

This map not only shows Cuba in 1853, but also some drawings of everyday life situations from back then and also important historical events like the “Battle of Havana” from 1762 and the after effects of an hurricane in 1846.

Map of Arabia, 1794

I went to Oman in February and one of the most impressive experiences was a day in the desert, including dunes bashing, dune surfing, falling off a camel, a car race in a 4×4 and a night underneath the stars. And now look at this map – even though Wahiba Sands, where I’d been, isn’t actually on it, it does say about the Saudi Arabian desert: great space covered with sand and a barren land the language of which is a particular dialect. Instantly I think about Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Sinbad and tales from 1001 nights. Feels good to know I’ve slept under the same stars as the explorers who made this map in the 18th century.

Overland Route to India, 1851

One county which ranks very high on my bucket list is India. A land which always played an important role for travellers throughout the centuries. A legend itself is the overland route to India. The map above shows different overland and sea routes to India in the 19. century, the illustrations show a camel convoy, the London post office and different places one could passes on the route like Gibraltar, Suez or Madras.

You see, I’m totally obsessed with maps. But I wouldn’t be a real Travelette if I wouldn’t also think about maps in a more fashionable way. I can stare at them, but I would also WEAR them. Few day ago we posted a picture of a map dress on our facebook page. And so we do know you fancy this too.

These dresses are made by artist Elisabeth Lecourt and they are called “Les Robes Geographiques”, prices are on request and I’m not sure if these dresses are really wearable but I totally adore the idea. And I raise my hat to Elisabeth for being even more obsessed with maps than I am.

But the gold star of mapnificence goes to this girl, who has the most travelicious tattoo I’ve ever seen.

I’ve found this picture on Pinterest and couldn’t find out who’s that girl or if this tattoo is even real. If you know anything about this picture and tattoo please leave a comment below.

Pictures of maps via oldmapsonline.org, pictures of map dresses via Elisabeth Lecourt, picture of map tattoo via Pinterest.