Collection supervisor

About the collection

With around 35,000 maps, the University Library Basel possesses one of the most significant collections of historical maps in Switzerland. Its focus is on maps and similar depictions created between the 16th and 18th centuries, as well as on maps of Switzerland and Basel. In addition, the collection includes particularly rare and unique items of special cartographic importance such as the so-called “Sonneninstrument” by Sebastian Münster (1525), the first printed city map of Paris (around 1550), as well as the only fully preserved copy of a world map by Gerhard Mercator (1569).

Maps published before 1700 as well as maps of Switzerland before 1900 are fully documented and searchable in the classic catalogue or swisscovery using the keyword ‘Kartenmaterial’.

Search tips

Status of cataloguing:

  • all maps before 1700
  • topographical, geological, hypsometric, hydrographical maps, traffic maps, views, birds-eye maps and city maps of Switzerland and individual cantons before 1900
  • maps of Baden and the Alsace before 1900
  • all new acquisitions since 1980
  • at present, the maps of Europe and European countries from the 17th – 19th centuries are recorded

Digital map collection

The University Library Basel has so far digitised around 900 maps, which have been made available as a collection on the platform. All maps before 1700 and those of the Regio Basiliensis before 1900 are available in high resolution.

Other finding aids

The map collection at the University Library Basel is accessible via two local catalogues:

  • Country catalogue
  • Alphabetical cartography catalogue


Hunger Dominik: Die Kartensammlung der öffentlichen Bibliothek der Universität Basel - Ziegler'sche Kartensammlung. In: Kartographische Sammlungen in der Schweiz, 200. (in German) The PDF can be found here.

Historical maps

With more than 17,000 maps created before 1900, the University Library Basel owns one of the largest historical map collections in Switzerland. The emphasis is on the early German maps of the 16th century as well as Dutch-French maps from the 17th and 18th centuries. The collection is completely dedicated to terrestrial, scientifically significant maps aligned with the requirements of the local university. Prominent works and rarities that are exclusively available at the University Library Basel include: the fully preserved world map by Gerhard Mercator, the “Sonneninstrumente” by Sebastian Münster and the world map by Johannes Kepler.

Swiss and Basel maps

According to their function and collective order, the map collection at the University Library Basel is geographically geared towards the metropolitan region of Basel and Switzerland. Works worth a special mention within the collection are the birds-eye view plan of Basel by Sebastian Münster, the famous Basel city map of Matthäus Merian and the cadastral map by Ludwig Heinrich Löffel. The collection of maps from the Basel region is still being maintained, even though the focus here lies on historical maps.

Maps can generally be ordered directly via swisscovery. Depending on the amount ordered, the articles are ready after a few working days.

Important tips for the use and order of reproductions can be found here: