Abstract In the State Archive of Como, Northern Italy, about 15,000 historical maps belonging to different national cadastral productions are preserved. The Web C.A.R.T.E. project was started to enhance the accessibility of this valuable cartographic
heritage using FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) technologies. The system, which implements specific web geoservices for cataloguing and visualization, should assist the State Archive of Como in the digital management of its cartographic resources and related information. After the high‐resolution
digitization step, maps undergo a georeferencing operation. A special statistical procedure for choosing the best mathematical model was developed, verifying also strengths and weaknesses of georeferencing with a common free and Open Source GIS. Next, metadata consistent with current Italian
standards were added to the georeferenced maps using an ad hoc localized version of GeoNetwork Opensource (recently provided as the official Italian version of the software). A dedicated WebGIS system was built for publishing the georeferenced cadastral maps. This system is capable of navigating
large raster data in a georeferenced framework and easily retrieving their metadata. The WebGIS system for the State Archive of Como is an important contribution for the preservation of the original historical paper maps and also a great modernization and simplification of the end user's access
to this archive.