View Full Version : Cities for Fantasy Cartographic Inspiration

The Cartographist
08-13-2008, 10:52 AM
So back in March, I had the pleasure of spending five days in Edinborough, Scotland. For anybody who EVER has the chance, I highly recommend it! While there, I was thinking a lot about cartography and cities in general, and the city proved to be a fantastic (every pun intended) inspiration. Everything from the layout of the city to the old architecture to the amazing castle on the hill to the history to the actual geography in and around the city--which influences it incredibly. IMHO it is an incredible town and one of my favorite on the planet.

Okay, sorry about that. I'll stop gushing now. Anyway...

What cities (real but also imaginary) serve as inspiration for YOU? And WHY?

Personally, I'd include Edinburgh my list. I'd also include Pittsburgh, PA (USA)(for its history (albeit short compared to Edinburgh) and its geography) and probably Hong Kong.

Just curious. I'm also hoping to learn about some great places that I haven't visited yet.

- "Tim"

08-13-2008, 12:36 PM
Hmmm interesting. I've never been to Edinborough, but I have been to several cities in and around Germany including Progue and Berlin - two pretty amazing cities in their own right. I'd probably include in the list of real life cities of inspiration Hong Kong as well, if not for it's geography then its density. New York city though maybe the most inspirational for myself though. I'd wanted to live there since a child and now I do. It's always interesting to me how, because the place everyone wants to live is so small (Manhattan Island) it caused the buildings there to be exceptionally large, but then just across the rivers (to New Jersey and Brooklyn/Queens) the cities sprawls out.

In terms of fantasy cities, ill just link to two and let them speak for themselves. :)

-Erengrad (http://fantasymaps.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/city-of-erengrad.jpg)
-Freeport (http://www.greenronin.com/freeport/freeport_map_big.jpg)

Steel General
08-13-2008, 12:44 PM
I have been to Manila several times and I think their is a lot that could be drawn from the different styles of architecture as well as the general geography.

I've never been to Europe (someday hopefully), but I would imagine most of the larger cities would have something to inspire cartographers.

I agree with you about Pittsburgh too, the rivers, all the hills...lots of stuff to work with.

08-15-2008, 02:23 AM
A few of mine: San Francisco(geography, history, the whole big city on the frontier bit plus Asia), Venice(is this uninspiring for anyone?)... Third place? I dunno, maybe Rome, Deadwood(guess what I'm slowly reading), Krakow. I have a weird thing for Dakar.

08-15-2008, 06:19 AM
Edinburgh is top of my list as well - partly due to growing up just outside it and getting the development of the city chapter and verse in our history lessons at school. Nice fact - the New Town of Edinburgh was designed through a competition around the time of the Jacobite rebellion of the Scots against the English monarchy and as a result it isn't entirely suprising that the winning entry was distinctly royalist. Hence Prince's Street, Rose street (an English heraldic symbol), Queen Street, George Street and so on. It's a beautiful part of town in distinct contrast to the far more organic mediaeval old town with suggestively named streets such as Fleshmarket Close and Cockburn Street :).

Steel General
08-15-2008, 10:36 AM
I can't beleive I left off the area I grew up in...Buffalo, NY (Tonawanda to be exact), the Great Lakes, Niagara River, Erie Canal, Niagara Falls, Whirlpool, Grand Island (largest freshwater island in the world I think). All kinds of stuff. :)

08-15-2008, 10:54 AM
I grew up around Chester (UK) and thats a great city for seeing historical layout (bits of roman still remain, but most is tudor now, which is a bit too modern for most maps).

Also being right on the Welsh / English border there are lots of castles nearby (just been looking at a few online, and it suprised me how small they were compared to the modern surrounding buildings - this having been discussed in another thread on these boards recently)

08-15-2008, 11:26 AM
It's been discussed but, Venice is a big one for me. Also try a Google Image Search for any of the following medevil itallian cities.

San Gimanino
Florence (specifically the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio)

I heard that Prague is the oldest surviving city in Europe. Castle Prajama in Slovenia is neat, it was featured on Ghost Hunters last week.

08-16-2008, 08:50 AM
In the UK I think Oxford is pretty cool and has lots of interesting buildings and architecture. I definitely agree with Chester too. If you like Roman or Georgian then Bath can't be beat (in the UK). People swoon over Stratford on Avon but personally I cant see the big fuss - same goes for York too. Edinburgh is real special tho. Some of the smaller towns are pretty cool too. Warwick, Marlborough, Lacock, Wells, Salisbury to name a few. Often there are more where its some of the individual buildings in certain places that are special where the town or city is not.

08-16-2008, 10:31 AM
I'd add that the tower of London is one of the most formidable castles I have ever seen, followed (or possibly surpassed) by Malbork Castle in the north of Poland. But this is a city thread so that's more of an aside.