Maps and Geography

What are men to rocks and mountains?

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice Human exploration of and travel through mountains dates back millennia. It’s only in the last few centuries, though, that exploration of mountains for exploration’s sake, or for sport and tourism, has come into existence. Ice cave on Marmolada, Austrian National Library, Public […]

Read More

Is there life on Mars?

Planet from “L’Espace céleste et la nature tropicale…”, The British Library, public domain Today, mankind is reaching further out into space than ever before through our unmanned probes and rovers. This is not a new ambition though – we have always looked outwards and wanted to understand what is there, above our heads, in space. […]

Read More

The Greatest Traveller in History? The Life and Places of Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta, or ‘Abu Abd al-Lah Muhammad ibn Abd al-Lah l-Lawati t-Tangi ibn Batutah’ to give him his full name, is a strong contestant for the greatest traveller in history. Not only did he travel a distance greater than the diameter of the Earth, he did most of it overland, travelling in caravans at a […]

Read More

Travelling through Mongolia with two gramophones

Enjoy a guest post by Sabine Schostag, Statsbiblioteket, edited by Imogen Greenhalgh. A version of this post appeared first on February 4, 2016 on Europeana Sounds blog. This is a story about Danish traveller and adventurer Henning Haslund-Christensen and his expeditions to Inner Mongolia. During his travels, Haslund-Christensen collected voices. In fact, this is the […]

Read More

Lost in unknown seas: Exploring an Arctic mystery

On the cloudy morning of 19 May 1845 – a small town, Greenhithe, in England’s Southeastern tip, was a hive of excitement and activity. Festivities were focused around the town’s dock where two great ships – HMS Erebus and Terror – were preparing to cast off. Their destination? The still-uncharted Northwest Passage of the Arctic, where […]

Read More

Life on the edge: the story of St Kilda

With its sheer cliffs and glassy waters, the archipelago St Kilda sits at the northern tip of the British isles, the westernmost part of the Outer Hebridean islands. As you might expect from such a far-flung location, the distance from the mainland plays an important role in the island’s history. The population of St Kilda […]

Read More

Illustrated Maps

Adventurers love them, explorers devise them, and everyone uses them – maps. From cave paintings to ancient maps of Babylon, Greece, and Asia, through the Age of Discovery (15th – 17th century) up until today, people have created and used maps as the essential tools to help them define, explain, and navigate their way through […]

Read More

Map with bullet hole from the remains of Walter Flex

The memory of the First World War, its events and consequences, its victims and victors, remains very much alive today. It has become part of the individual and collective memory of Europe and of countries across the world – the stories of soldiers and their families continue to be told and published from generation to […]

Read More

Marco Polo – the man who brought China to Europe

Italian explorer Marco Polo was born on 15th September 1254 and died on the 8th or 9th January 1324. We’re not sure which because in Venetian law the day ends at sunset not midnight, so we only know he died more or less on this day 690 years ago. ‘Roma – Dettaglio del ritratto di […]

Read More

Lift off: how humans have viewed space through the ages

4-10 October is  World Space Week. In this blog, we explore how the human race has viewed space through the ages – from medieval astronomical diagrams to modern cartoons. You can also watch the 1978 launch of space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ at Cape Canaveral and listen to Holst’s ‘Planets’ orchestral suite. If there’s one thing we […]

Read More

The Battle to Cross the Atlantic

Next week, I will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean on my non-stop flight from Amsterdam to Philadelphia. A common occurrence I hear you say, however a little over a 100 years ago, people were literally dying in their attempts to fly this particular stretch of ‘the pond’. Map of the North Atlantic Ocean – 1867. […]

Read More

Map Nerds: Jodocus Hondius and Me

What is it about maps? I know I’m not the only one who can spend hours poring over them – places I’ve been, places I haven’t, places I’ve never heard of, it doesn’t matter. Give me a map and I’m as happy as a toddler with a saucepan and a wooden spoon. We have an […]

Read More

Map of Europe in 1914

By the team from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz The memory of the First World War, its events and consequences, its victims and victors, remain very much alive today. It has become part of the individual and collective memory of Europe and of countries across the world. In this blog the Staatsbibliothek zu […]

Read More

Robert Falcon Scott’s South Pole expedition

One hundred years ago, on 17 January 1912, the Terra Nova Expedition, officially known as the British Antarctic Expedition 1910, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole. Unfortunately, the crew made it only to discover they were beaten by their Norwegian rival, Roald Amundsen, by 34 days and to meet their desolate […]

Read More

Did Columbus really see mermaids?

On 9 January 1493, Christopher Columbus observed something he had before seen on the coasts of Africa… Mermaids.  In his journal he described the encounter with three mermaids that elevated themselves above the suface of the sea. Most likely mistaking manatees, aquatic mammals also known as sea cows, for mermaids, “Columbus, disposed to give a […]

Read More

Voyage to the Great Unknown Southern Continent

Today we are honouring one of the bravest explorers and sailors in history: Abel Tasman, the Dutch man who was the captain of the first reported European expedition to reach the  island of Tasmania, 40 kilometres south of the Australian continent, on 24 November 1642. During the same voyage he was also the first European to sight […]

Read More