About | Historical Maps Coastal Zone

The coastal area is a very dynamic region which is affected by both natural aspects (sea level rise, storm surges, etc.) and anthropogenic factors (land reclamation, dikes, economic activities, urban development, wars, etc.). Historical maps of the coastal zone are excellent proxies for the dynamic nature of this region. Each map documents a specific moment in time, depicting the former state of our coast and sea. Moreover, Flanders – and by extension the Netherlands – belonged to the absolute top of the cartography field in the 16th century. Hence, detailed maps of Flanders – including the coastal zone  –  were already available in a very early stage.

In this initiative, historical maps of the Belgian part of the North Sea, its coastal zone and the Scheldt Estuary (including border areas) are digitally disclosed. The maps are georeferenced in order to visualize and compare them in a standardized manner. The geometric accuracy is analyzed in MapAnalyst according to the method described by Jenny & Hurni (2011). Certain features on the historical maps such as the coastline are vectorized and provided as a shapefile. These derived products and the relevant metadata are freely disclosed for end users, in line with the open data movement.

This website focuses on various target audiences. The potential end users include local history societies, heritage organizations, museums, coastal municipalities, education, public administrations (involved in coastal management, tourism, culture and heritage) and scientists from different research disciplines ranging from historical landscape research to toponymy.

This project was initiated by Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) and Cultuurbibliotheek (Brugge) with funding from the Province of West Flanders (grant for heritage initiatives 2015). Currently, this partnership is further extended with other organizations in order to increase the supply of historical maps and derived products.




Terms of use:

The products on www.vliz.be/hisgiskust are disclosed freely for non-commercial use and research. The re-use of text and images is encouraged, provided a citation of the source and www.vliz.be/hisgiskust. The use of products for commercial purposes is only permitted with the written consent of the owner.



Questions, remarks and suggestions about this initiative can be sent to Hans Pirlet (hans.pirlet@vliz.be) and Nathalie De Hauwere (nathalie.dehauwere@vliz.be).