FIG Working Week 2000, 21-26 May, Prague

Surveying, Mapping and Cadastre in the Czech Lands — 
History, Present State and Perspectives

by Jirí Šíma

Key words: Czech Lands, surveying, mapping, cadastre. 


1. History

Beginning of surveying and land registration in the Czech Lands may be found around 1270 during the reign of the king Premysl Otakar II (institution of authorised surveyors, definition of measures of length used to survey of lots, domesday books registering the property of nobles, free towns and church). Excellent surveyors and astronomers were active in Prague, among them Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler. The oldest maps of the Czech Lands are dated 1518 (map of Bohemia), 1561 (map of Silesia) and 1569 (map of Moravia). The first text-book for surveyors was edited in Prague in 1617.

After 1620 the Czech Lands became for 300 years a part of the Austrian (and later Austro-Hungarian) Empire. Development of surveying and beginning of cadastre were common to a group of other lands forming this Empire, e.g. to Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia and two North-Italian provinces. In 1718 the first School of Engineering with lessons from surveying was established in Prague. At the end of the 18th century the first military mapping took place and the Cadastre of Lands was established by the Emperor Joseph II. In 1912 the Society of Czech Surveyors has traced out three basic goals: to concentrate all organisations of surveying and mapping in one, to prolong university studies of surveying to four years and to gain equal position of surveyors in public services with other graduates from technical universities.

In 1918 the Czech Lands became part of the Czechoslovak Republic. In twenties and thirties the national geodetic reference system was formed as well as a national cartographic projection. In 1927 Czechoslovakia became member of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). In the same year the Act on the Cadastre of Lands came in power. Together with detailed technical instructions it gave start to dispatched forming of a modern cadastre.

During the World War II the Czech Lands became a part of Great German Empire as its Protectorate. This epoch has contributed to concentration of state surveying in the Land Survey Office except for the cadastre which still remained in the sphere of the Ministry of Finances.

Results of the World War II resulted in incorporation of Czechoslovakia into the East Block of Socialist Countries bringing some positive and some negative consequences. A boon may be seen in fulfillment of the three basic goals of Czech surveyors from 1912, integration of fundamental trigonometric, levelling and gravimetric networks and unification of medium and small-scale map series. On contrary, this epoch brought a suppression of the Cadastre of Real Estates that originally registered proprietary relations to lands, its replacement by the Land Registry recording user relations to lands only, as well as forcible influencing the content, form and distribution of maps caused by secrecy mania. During forty years of communist rule the private sector of surveying and mapping became completely extinct.

2. Present State

Czechoslovakia was divided peacefully on the 1st January 1993 and the Czech Lands (Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia) became the Czech Republic. At the same time a central body of state administration was established — the Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping and Cadastre which supervises activities of 77 Cadastral Offices in districts, 7 Survey and Cadastral Inspectorates in regions, Land Survey Office with nation-wide field of activity and the Research Institute of Geodesy, Topography and Cartography.

Activities of state administration bodies are strictly regulated by law. Other survey and cartographic activities are carried out by private firms (about 500 enterprises) and by licensed surveyors (about 1800), e.g., laying-out and delimitation of lots, production of survey sketches (more than 120 thousand annually), surveying for building construction (engineering geodesy) and creation of thematic maps, charts and atlases.

In 1994 two basic concepts of long-time activities were defined:

  • digitising of the Cadastre of Real Estates (1994 - 2006),
  • forming of the Fundamental Base of Geographic Data (ZABAGED) as a topologic-vectorial basic layer to GIS and computer created medium and small map series.

Till the end of 1999 a considerable part of these goals was fulfilled: the File of Descriptive Information of the Cadastre of Real Estates was fully digitised and ZABAGED has covered more than 80% of the national territory. The fundamental horizontal control was integrated into the European frame (EUREF). The Czech Republic is a NATO member and the Military Topographic Service of the Army of the Czech Republic co-operates effectively on creating of unified map series in digital form (V-map).

3. Perspectives

The main task at the beginning of the coming millennium will be implementation of the so-called Enhanced Information System of the Cadastre enabling integration of descriptive and geodetic data of the cadastre, their maintenance in local area networks (LAN), the replication in the Central Data Base by the wide area network (WAN) and remote access of end users by means of the Internet. The Fundamental Base of Geographic Data (ZABAGED) will be updated in four-years-intervals. Since 2005 it will represent the exclusive source of data for computer created medium and small scale maps. In the same period close relation between civil and military geographic data bases will be achieved. After vectorising of all cadastral maps (2006) the Enhanced National Geodetic Reference System (S-JTSK/95) will be implemented into cadastre and large-scale mapping. Concept of development of national geoinformation infrastructure will be started in 2000. Its goal is to form legislative, standardised, organisational and technological environment suitable to acquisition, processing and distributing geographical information required by public administration and private sector.

MSc. Jirí Šíma, PhD.
Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping and Cadastre
Pod sídlištěm 9
182 11 Praha 8
Web site:

This page is maintained by the FIG Office. Last revised on 15-09-04.