Joan Blaeu was a mapmaker, and lived in seventeenth century Alkmaar and Amsterdam. Blaeu’s map of Amsterdam, is an extraordinary work. His maps of Deventer, Leiden and Amersfoort were key research tools when I was writing my novel, helping me map my protagonist’s journey and world.
They’re such lovely documents and what is striking about them is how easy they are to use today, how little has changed. Here’s his map of Amsterdam: Full size map is available via Wiki Commons – click on it to enlarge. Blaeu helpfully includes a list of street names and important places. Using the list of names on the left of the map, can you find West India House? Noorderkerk? Westerkerk? The Apple Market?
Look for the details – the cows in the fields; washing left out to dry; people going to church.
Have fun exploring mid-17thC Amsterdam! If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself wandering for hours…