Welcome to World Jewish Heritage
Rediscover your heritage like never before
|Location HaKardo, Jerusalem|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility yes|
|Geographical Coordinates 31.77583,35.231|
The Cardo was a north–south-oriented street in Roman cities, military camps, and coloniae. The Cardo, an integral component of city planning, was lined with shops and vendors, and served as a hub of economic life. The main Cardo was called cardo maximus. Most Roman cities also had a Decumanus Maximus, an east-west street that served as a secondary main street. Due to varying geography, in some cities the decumanus is the main street and the Cardo is secondary, but in general the cardo maximus served as the primary road. The Forum was normally located at the intersection of the Decumanus and the Cardo. The cardo was the "hinge" or axis of the city, derived from the same root as cardinal.
History and time period
Jerusalem After the Jewish rebellion led by Simon Bar Kokhba was crushed by Hadrian in the 130s AD, Jerusalem was destroyed. Hadrian built a Roman colony in its place, naming it Colonia Aelia Capitolina, after himself. Like many Roman colonies, Aelia Capitolina was laid out with a Hippodamian grid plan of narrower streets and wider avenues. The main north-south thoroughfare, the Cardo Maximus, was originally a paved avenue approximately 22.5 meters wide (roughly the width of a six lane highway) which ran southward from the site of the Damascus gate, terminating at an unknown point. The southern addition to the Cardo, constructed under Justinian in the 6th century AD, extended the road further south to connect the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with the newly-built Zion Gate. Along its length, the roadway was divided into three parts: two colonnaded covered walks flanking a 12 meter wide road. The shaded porticoes provided separation of pedestrian traffic from wheeled carts, shelter from the elements, space for small-scale commerce, as well as opportunities for residents and visitors to gather and interact. The central open pavement provided commercial access as well as ritual space. The Cardo’s most striking visual feature was its colonnade, clearly depicted on the Madaba Map. Simple bases supported monolithic shafts, spaced 5.77 meters apart. The shafts supported Byzantine-style Corinthian capitals – intricately carved, but more stylized versions of their classical counterparts. Although this combination of elements was uniform the preserved examples display some variation in the profile and size of the bases, and in the pattern of the capitals. Despite aesthetic differences, the approximate height of the base, column, and capital units of the colonnade was five meters, a height which contributed to the spaciousness of the porticoes. The wall of the Cardo’s eastern portico featured an arcade that housed various stalls and workshops leased by craftsmen and merchants. The line of the Cardo Maximus is still visible on the Jewish Quarter Street, though the original pavement lies several meters below the modern street level. In the 7th century, when Jerusalem fell under Muslim rule, the Cardo became an Arab-style marketplace. Remains of the Byzantine Cardo were found in the Jewish Quarter excavations beginning in 1969. In 1971, a plan for preserving the ancient street was submitted by architects Peter Bogod, Esther Krendel and Shlomo Aronson. Their proposal relied heavily on the sixth century Madaba map, a mosaic map of Jerusalem found in 1897 in Madaba, Jordan. The map clearly showed the Roman Cardo as the main artery through the Old City. The architects proposed a covered shopping arcade that would preserve the style of an ancient Roman street using contemporary materials. Their plan was based on the hope that archeologists would find remains of the southern end of the Cardo, an extension of the north-south Roman thoroughfare built during the Byzantine era (324–638). Time was of the essence and mounting pressure to repopulate the Jewish Quarter led to the construction of a superstructure which allowed the residential buildings to be built while the archaeologists continued to work below. The project was 180 meters in total and was divided into eight sections to allow for construction teams to move quickly from one section to another. By 1980, 37 housing units and 35 shops were built, incorporating archaeological finds such as a Hasmonean wall from the second century BC and rows of Byzantine columns. The combination of old and new is also visible on the Street of the Jews, where the shops have been set into old vaults and the gallery is covered by an arched roof containing small apertures to allow for natural lighting.
- cardo street