Handpainted Hikingmaps

Via @safttante we heard about another rare and unusual handicraft: Painting hiking maps. In Bad Schandau there is perhaps Germanys only hiking map painter: Dr. Böhm. And we visited him.


On the first glance the office looks like any other office. Some cabinets with books, shelves with papers, a computer and a lot of drawers. In the middle of the room there is a huge table. At the window there is a desk with an old radio on the window sill. Nothing unusual.

Then Dr. Böhm arrived. A little bit chaotic but loveworthy. In the next two hours we pestered him with questions and philosophised about different subjects. But mainly it was about the beautifully painted hiking maps.


At the beginning there is and old map. It is copied and divided in smaller parts. With these parts – his field maps – Dr. Böhm walks into the country. He actually walks every path, which is shown on the map himself. What a task! On his way he marks every junction, each ditch, fences, walls, walking signs and whatever seems important to him.

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He combines tradition with modern times in using a GPS-tracking. With that he can compare the walked path with the map.

When he collected all the information, the actual painting starts. Painstakingly each line, each path and each rock are transferred to the map. With old drawing instruments like pen and ink layer for layer arises. Mistakes should not occur because corrections are very difficult or impossible. Later on the lettering and the title are crafted.

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An insanely complex work. No wonder that he makes one map a year. After around 20 years he edits his own maps again, because a lot has changed during that time. Deforastations are grown over again. Ways disappeared or new paths exist.


His creations are full of small things. Noteworthy single trees are marked down and even the positions of hiking signs are registered. In each map there is a little man hidden since he did that once as a birthday present for his daughter. Now the map buyer insists on it. Have fun while searching for it!


We would have loved those maps whiles hiking during the last weeks. Maybe we wouldn’t have got lost with them. There might be nothing more accurate than those maps. Too bad that this handicraft is in danger of extinction, because Dr. Böhm might be the last one of his kind…

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