Cartographers Have Been Hiding Illustrations Inside The Official Maps Of Switzerland

When people ask for an illustration artist like Rabinky Art’s services, they know what to expect; vibrant imagery and creative works. When people ask for cartographers, they expect geographical and mathematical precision: after all, maps are supposed to be as accurate a representation of a location.

The Swiss Federal Office of Topography’s cartographers have held up the standards of the office and the country, but even they can’t help break a few rules here and there, as evidenced by different iterations of official maps of the Switzerland having hidden illustrations snuck into them, as if the cartographers were channeling something like Rabinky Art’s services; deviating from their roles for a bit.

Closer investigations into the official maps of Switzerland revealed these hidden illustrations, tucked away in the lines of the maps like Easter eggs, disguised with the use of clever linework or shading. For example, one map had a marmot hidden amidst the contour lines of the Swiss Alps, its fur hidden as parallel lines indicative of mountainous slopes, while the rest of it was hidden with good shading.

While these hidden illustrations do get discovered, some of them are so well-hidden that years pass before they’re even spotted. A good example, is a particular rendering found amidst the lines of the municipality of Egg, in Northern Switzerland, which remained hidden for nearly 6 decades. The illustration is that of a naked woman, added to the 1958 map and hidden amidst green marshland and blue river lines. The illustration was only discovered recently, in 2012.

It’s unclear why the cartographers do this, but these hidden illustrations are notable due to the fact that the Swiss Federal Office of Topography, colloquially known as the Swisstopo, is one of the most prestigious map-making institutions in existence, with a rigorous verification and proofreading process to match.

Unfortunately, illustrations that are discovered are then removed in the next iteration of the maps they are in, and are discontinued. A spokesperson from Swisstopo even went on record on a local media outlet saying that creativity has no place on the official maps, which is understandable given their nature and purpose.