Historical maps

The swisstopo map collection is a unique cultural treasure comprising all first editions and revised versions of the official Dufour Map, the Siegfried Map and the series of national maps. The collection also contains a variety of documents, including handwritten items. All editions of the maps produced in analogue form can now be obtained in digital form or conveniently viewed chronologically in swisstopo’s map viewer.

Extract from the topographic Map of Switzerland from 1856.

Most comprehensive collection of Swiss historical geodata

With the official maps produced from 1840 onwards, together with their largely hand-drawn documentation, swisstopo’s map collection contains Switzerland’s oldest geographical reference data. The approximately 29,000 printed maps and 23,000 manuscript maps (hand-drawn originals) form the most comprehensive collection of historical geodata in Switzerland. 

Cultural treasure and landscape memory

Although it was originally conceived as a pure archive of outdated maps, since 1838 swisstopo’s collection has evolved into a cultural treasure of national importance. Taken together, the items in the collection represent a comprehensive record of the development of Switzerland’s landscapes. 

Visualisation of Switzerland's landscape and settlement development 

With the aid of the sets of historical maps it is possible to trace the evolution of Switzerland’s landscape and the history of its residential development right back to the era before the founding of the Swiss Confederation. swisstopo introduced a visualisation service in 2013 that enables users to embark on a fascinating and informative journey through history. With the aid of the sets of historical maps it is possible to trace the evolution of Switzerland’s landscape and the history of its residential development right back to the era before the founding of the Swiss Confederation. swisstopo introduced a visualisation service in 2013 that enables users to embark on a fascinating and informative journey through history. A  journey through time is available in the federal geoportal that can be used for viewing maps dating from any desired era.    

View a journey through time

swisstopo as authority responsible for the collection of national maps

swisstopo is required by law to permanently place this national treasure at the disposal of the public for a broad variety of uses, and it fulfils this requirement in the following ways: 

  • Compilation
    swisstopo places the collection of national maps at the disposal of the public by posting them on the various portals. Users can search for any desired historical map sheets via the online catalogue of federal administration libraries Alexandria, by visiting the website Kartenportal.ch or by clicking on the historical maps using a journey through time
     referred to above.   
  • Digitisation 
    swisstopo has produced high-resolution scans of the original historical analogue maps, and these digital products can now be ordered from swisstopo. The Dufour Map, Siegfried Map and sets of national maps are also available online via map.geo.admin.ch, where they can be compared with the present-day maps with the aid of a variety of tools.
  • Protection and preservation measures 
    swisstopo’s map collection is protected in specially enclosed and air-conditioned premises which are not open to the public. The maps are kept in special flat, acid-free receptacles. swisstopo personnel repair and restore any damaged items wherever necessary.     
     

Background information on the Dufour Map

The 1:100 000 Topographic Map of Switzerland (Dufour Map) was the first official series of maps that encompassed the whole of Switzerland. It was published in the period from 1845 to 1865 and thus...

Background information on the National Map

The National Maps of Switzerland that are in use today are based on the provisions of the legislation dating from 1935. The National Maps were implemented in varying scales up and subsequently...

Background information on the Siegfried Map

The original surveys for the Dufour Map were used for the publication of the 1:25 000 / 1:50 000 Topographic Atlas of Switzerland (Siegfried Map), which was produced between 1870 and 1926 as a...

Georeferencing

The geodata produced by swisstopo are stored in a defined geodetic reference system.


Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
Tel.
+41 58 469 01 11

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Relevant authority

Map collection
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Print contact

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern

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