Some historic facts about the Cardo in Jerusalem

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Some historic facts about the Cardo in Jerusalem

In the year 129 CE, the Roman emperor Hadrian, who came to power 50 years after the destruction of the temple, toured the eastern region of his empire and traveled to Jericho, Jerusalem and Gaza. He announced that he would build a new military city on the ruins of Jerusalem to be called Aelia Capitolina, mainly for legion soldiers. This shocked the Jews who had nourished hopes that this moderate emperor would allow them to fully restore Jewish life, and fueled the Bar Kochba Revolt, which broke out three years later. Far from restoring Jewish life, the failure of the uprising in 135 CE ended Jewish settlement in Jerusalem for hundreds of years.

Hadrian decided to build a Cardo in Jerusalem, as in other former cities and camps, a wide main street into the heart of the settlement or city, the world came from the Greek for heart.

The Roman builders of Aelia Capitolina began work on the Cardo in 135 CE, starting at what was then the magnificent Damascus Gate and heading south to the city center to intersect an east-west street.

In the sixth century, the Byzantine emperor Justinian extended the Cardo southward to keep up with expansion of the city, He also built a new church in the south of the city – actually named the New Church (Nea)- and the road extension allowed for processions between it and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. When finished, the Cardo streched from Damascus Gate to Zion Gate, which was east of the present Zion Gate.

The Cardo was 23 meters wide and had a central road for pedestrian and wagon traffic and two avenues of columns, one on each side. The Cardo usually had shops on each side but in Jerusalem there were shops on the eastern side only in certain parts of the Jewish quarter. Rain channels were built on both side of the road to carry water to cisterns built under the Nea Church. The Jerusalem Cardo is clearly marked on the sixth century Madaba map.

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