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Features Weekend Reads Maps

10 stunning maps to use as digital wallpaper

We’ve pulled together some beautiful cartographic and geographic-based images for you to download and use as wallpaper on your computer or mobile device. From ancient and mythological maps to selenography (mapping of the moon) we hope that each image will inspire you both aesthetically and intellectually.

Click through on each picture for the full-sized image.

1. Sacred geography


Anybody with even the most elementary knowledge of geography will realise this map is incorrect.

It was created by a 16th century Protestant pastor called Heinrich Bünting who created this map more with religion than geography in mind. Jerusalem is at the centre of the world and Europe, Asia and Africa create the leaves of the clover around it. Recently discovered America is also there at the bottom left and England just above Europe. This map forms part of a book of woodcut maps titled Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae (Travel book through Holy Scripture) published in 1581. (credit: wikipedia)

2. A chart of hell


Continuing the religious theme, this is a painting of Dante’s nine circles of hell by Botticelli. The inferno is described in Dante’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy and starts with Limbo. A relatively chilled out place with lush meadows and a castle, it’s a destination for the unbaptised and virtuous pagans. Each descending circle, however, gets more hellish, ending with the ninth circle for traitors who are frozen in ice. Satan is at the centre, half frozen in ice and beating his wings to no avail. (credit: wikipedia)

3. Phantom islands


There have been quite a few phantom islands cropping up in maps throughout the history of cartography. These were land masses that purportedly existed through hearsay and sailors’ tales but which did not in fact exist and were subsequently purged from maps through the centuries. This map shows too fictitious places: Estotiland and Frisland. It was created by a Venetian called Nicolò Zeno and some people believe that far from being an honest mistake, Zeno put them in as a hoax. (credit: wikipedia)

4. Longitude and Latitude


The image above is a 15th-century manuscript copy of the Ptolemy world map. Ptolemy was an ancient mathematician and geographer from Egypt who was notable for incorporating the concepts of longitude and latitude into his mapping techniques. This is a map of China, Sri Lanka and the Malay Peninsula. (credit: wikipedia)

5. Arrival of the Americas


This printed wall map of the world was created by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, in 1507. It is known as the first map to use the name "America". A single copy of the map survives and is housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (credit: wikipedia)

6. Map of the moon


Not all maps have to be of the world. This one shows a map of the moon. The practice is known as selenography and this map was created by Johannes Hevelius, a pioneer of lunar topography, in 1647. Mapping terrestrial features of the moon as seen through the telescope, he named many areas after those known to Roman and Greek civilisations. (credit: wikipedia)

7. How the world should look


Most maps of the world are based on what is known as the Mercator projection, which increasingly inflates the sizes of regions according to their distance from the equator, giving us a warped view of how the world looks and causing political tension over the years. This map, which was created by Arno Peters in the 1960s, shows what the world really looks like. (credit: wikipedia)

8. Valley of the Gods


This stunning aerial image shows a section of the Valley of the Gods in Utah, USA. The grey, serpentine squiggle is the Gray Canyon formed by the San Juan River. The red hues of the landscape gives it an otherworldly, almost Martian, feel. (credit: Doc Searls)

9. Neurons


As mapping isn’t just to do with the world, neither is it just to do with floating rocks in space. This is an image of neurons in a human brain. The neurons have been stained black to show exactly what they look like and the pathways they make. (credit: wikipedia)

10. The geographical tube map of London


While Harry Beck’s iconic diagrammatic map of the London underground is both beautiful and useful - helping people to navigate the confusing mesh of transit networks, it is nevertheless unrepresentative of the real layout of the tube network. If you want to see how the undergrund looks from a more accurate geographical perspective, this map gives a far truer picture. (credit: wikipedia)


Oh, and if you wanted some actual wallpaper made from maps then your prayers have been answered here.


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