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Tiles are rectangular slabs of ceramic affixed in a grid arrangement to your bathroom wall! But here we're much more likely to be talking about map tiles:

  • square bitmap graphics displayed in a grid arrangement to show a map
  • We may also be talking about tiled map data.

This page includes lots of information and technical detail. If you want to use map tiles in your web page or application you can have a look at this tutorial about how to use OpenStreetMap tiles.

Graphical Map Tiles

Map tiles are typically 256×256 pixel images. e.g.:


Tiles are not always in these dimensions; for example there could be 64×64 pixel images for mobile use, however 256×256 pixel images are a de facto standard.

A "tileset" typically includes enough tiles to form a very large image, if they were shown all at once, and also several zoom levels. Generally the idea is not to show them all at once, but to display a particular area of the map on a website. Normally this is done using a JavaScript map library to provide panning and zooming functionality, and request downloading of new tiles as necessary to show the user new areas of the map (a Slippy Map).

Using tiles

  • Browsing#Layers explains the selection of tiles available for viewing on the openstreetmap.org homepage
  • Mapnik – a popular tile renderer
  • Kosmos Tile Map Server – windows tile renderer
  • Tile usage policy
  • Exporting calibrated maps list tools to have tiles compatible with specific embedding software
  • Tiletool is a utility for map tile processing. It can generate lowzoom tiles combining higher zoom tiles, apply overlays over them and some other useful features.

Technical data



Name type covered latency comment tiles url [1] Tile example
OSM mapnik
basic map
Tile usage policy
base a b c 42.png
OSM mapnik
Mapquest OSM
base 1 2 3 4 Tile mapquest.png.jpeg
MapQuest Sat
base 1 2 3 4 http://otile1.mqcdn.com/tiles/1.0.0/sat/7/63/42.jpg
Cycle map
base a b Tile cycling.png
HOT style
Humanitarian focused OSM base layer
base a b Humanitarian style.png
Ski map
overlay [2] Tile pistemap.png
Sea marks
overlay Sea marks only, background transparent [3] Tile seamark.png
Hiking routes
overlay 1D Using osmc:symbol=* [4] Tile lonviahiking.png
Cycling routes
overlay 1D [5] Tile lonviacycling.png
Cycling routes
overlay a Tile cycling toolserver.png
Hike & Bike
Hiking map
DE ? Using osmc:symbol=* [6] Tile hikebike.png
[7] Tile hillshading.png
mapnik map grayscale
base a b Tile mapnikb&w.png
Stamen Toner
Black & White map
base Black&White, printing, uses Natural Earth at low zooms, retina tiles available, variants available: toner, toner-hybrid, toner-labels, toner-lines, toner-background, toner-lite [8] Tile stamentonerb&n.png
Stamen Watercolor
Artistic map
base Watercolor [9] Tile watercolor stamen.jpg
Transport map
base a b Tile transport.png
Transport map
base [10] Tile opnvtransport.png
Transport map
overlay Transport [11] Tile openptmaptransport.png
Lyrk Geodienste
general map
base specific amount of delivered tiles are for free, more traffic available by paying. retina tiles optional. Lyrk tile.png
CartoDB Light ("Positron")
general map
Required attribution: "Map tiles by CartoDB, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under ODbL."
base unlimited use permitted, uses Natural Earth at low zooms, no_labels variant available [12] Cartodb light tile.png
CartoDB Dark ("Dark Matter")
general map
Required attribution: "Map tiles by CartoDB, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under ODbL."
base unlimited use permitted, uses Natural Earth at low zooms, no_labels variant available [13] Cartodb dark tile.png
Railway infrastructure
Usage policy
overlay Railway infrastructure a b c
Railway maxspeeds
Usage policy
overlay Railway maxspeeds a b c
Railway signalling
Usage policy
overlay Railway signalling and train protection signals a b c

Also see for example map compare service at bbbike.org. Please obey the usage restrictions of each tile server if you use it heavily!


  1. Copy the destination of the link to get the url with placeholders

Tiled map data

  • QuadTiles, a scheme to make OSM database indexed by tiles
  • OJW's tile data server, first implementation of a cacheable data server, that servs data in the same way as the tileserver.
  • Tile data server, generic definition of how data served as tiles should work. (written by ojw as well...)


  • Switch2OSM, The Basics This page gives some introductory information on the tiles, licence and JavaScript libraries to display the tiles.