The project

MAGIS Brugge represents digital access to the famous sixteenth century urban map of Bruges by Marcus Gerards. The entire urban map is cut up and analysed using digital methodology. All the cartographic details are extracted from the map, topographically characterised and registered in a database. This makes it possible to quickly and efficiently call up elements from the map and link information to them. A search engine and web platform enable search and request tasks to be performed on the cartographical and textual information about middle aged and sixteenth-century Bruges.

The map

The three-dimensional urban map of Bruges was published in 1562 at the request of Bruges town council. The map created by Marcus Gerards consists of ten map plates that in total measure 1 x 1.77 m. As a consequence, the copper engraving contains innumerable details and as such offers a unique view of sixteenth century Bruges and the surrounding countryside. The map is therefore a very useful tool for studying and visualising the history of Bruges.

The name 'Gerards' is often written as 'Gheeraerts'. This concerns the same person.

The method

A high-quality scan of Marcus Gerards' map is digitally redrawn in its entirety using a recently developed analytical method called Digital Thematic Deconstruction. The analysis is conducted using GIS software, so that every cartographic detail can be manually reproduced and allocated a unique number; thousands of elements can then be thematically categorised. The cartographic representation thereby forms the sole means of guidance. This process makes every cartographic detail clickable.

The database

By means of the unique number, all the individual map elements and thematic categories are linked to the database. Standardised information from the scientific literature and historical sources can then be directly linked to the map. A modifiable table enables the input of any kind of information. The added value of this database are the themes to group and visualise information. We start with the key themes trade and industry, chosen with the new exhibition of the Gruuthusemuseum in mind. These themes will gradually be expanded. During the coming year, information about hydrography will be inserted.


Due to geometric malformations it makes no sense to georeference the whole map. A lot of details would be lost while the level of detail is the strength of this map. We do, however, georeference map elements whose location can be pinpointed with certainty (intersections, familiar buildings). In this way the map elements can be linked to their actual location in Bruges. In the meantime a strategy is being worked out to automatically determine coordinates for each topographic element.


MAGIS Brugge aims to evolve into a dynamic information system about Bruges' history, which can continue to grow in response to the increase in information acquired about the city. It is a versatile tool with which to collect, access and exhibit information for different user groups: researchers, museums and national heritage partners, education and the general public (inhabitants of Bruges, tourists, teachers and all other interested parties). Researchers can use MAGIS Brugge to study late Mediaeval and early modern Bruges and survey their research results. The museums in Bruges will use MAGIS Brugge for exhibitions and to design applications for the general public. Teachers can show their pupils how to use a historical map. And the general public can browse the thousands of hidden details of the map and get more acquainted with the historical city. In an ideal world, researchers and volunteers will keep inserting information into the database and new information will contribute to a more and more complete database. The intention is to make the use of MAGIS Bruges as widespread as possible. A lot of energy will be put in communication and the construction of derivatives. We are now working on an educational file that teachers can use and an app for the general public. At the same time the project partners work on the sharing of expertise at national and international forums.

MAGIS in the near future

With the knowledge platform and the public friendly website completed, we are now working on the derivatives described above. An important challenge is an ongoing input of data into the platform. The expansion of our network of volunteers should help with that. A communication plan has to make all our previous efforts worthwhile and appreciated by a wide public.
Versie 8, aangemaakt door Administrator op 2013-11-06 08:30, laatst bewerkt door Administrator op 2015-04-14 16:44.