The Historic Towns Atlas (HTA) programme was started in 1955 by the Commission Internationale pour l’Histoire des Villes (International Commission for the History of Towns (ICHT)) of the Comité Internationale des Sciences Historiques.
Amongst the ICHT’s aims is to encourage and co-ordinate the production of atlases of towns plans, to common scales, accompanied by commentaries and subsidiary maps. The purpose of these atlases is to aid the comparative study of the history of towns in Europe. Although many secondary works on the history of individual settlements have been written, making comparison between towns has often been made harder by the lack of town plans of a comparable scale. The HTA programme has aimed to produce consistency between countries to allow for just such comparison.