Nolli App of Rome: Use a Classic Map as a Modern Travel Guide

[ By WebUrbanist in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

nolli map complete panels

The Nolli Map of Rome is one of history’s most famous works of cartography, and now a new iPhone and iPad app lets you use it to navigate in realtime, helping you both lose and find yourself in one of Europe’s most marvelous ancient cities.

nolli app of rome

Finished in 1748 after 12 years of research  by Italian architect and surveyor Giambattista Nolli, this innovative map represented a novel approach to figure-ground representation.


Streets and open public spaces were depicted as voids, but so to were enclosed civic spaces like the Pantheon. The original engraved city map consisted of 12 copper plates spanning 40 square feet, and, at the time, was the most accurate representation of the city to date.

nolli versus modern rome

So why would you want to tour modern Rome with a centuries-old map? Its creator, Martin Koppenhöfer, explains that “despite its age, this map is still very valid for most parts of the Roman center.”

nolli map historical view

He also notes that “it is quite entertaining to find your way with this app. Pedestrian navigation is very different … you don’t have to know every street or turn, just go into the right direction.”

nolli zoomed overlay

Think of it as part walking tour, part adventure and part historical education. Using an old map to navigate a city lets you find things that might have otherwise escaped your attention. It also allows you to distinguish between more permanent fixtures of the historic city and more contemporary changes and additions. If you lack a compatible device, you can also check out an online interactive version of this iconic map

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[ By WebUrbanist in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

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