Running through the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem is the Roman Cardo, or Cardo Maximus. It once served as one of Jerusalem’s main roads during the Roman and Byzantine periods. Jerusalem city residents and visiting religious pilgrims used the city’s central walkways to reach the Cardo’s many surrounding churches. It served as an Arab marketplace during Ottoman rule over the Holy City.
The Roman Cardo’s physical dimensions are 40 feet in width and 70 feet in length. The original road is located 20 feet below the streets of modern Jerusalem. True to its original Roman style, the length of the Roman Cardo is lined with columns.
During renovations of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter in the 1970s and 1980s, pieces of the original Cardo Maximus were uncovered and excavated. Today, visitors enjoy walking through fully renovated sections of the ancient site, which are filled with specialty stores, residential housing units and souvenir shops. This was one of the original purposes of the Roman Cardo when it was constructed in the 6th century. Findings from the excavations, including an original wall from the Hasmonean period in the 2nd Century, are on display. Visitors can see reproductions of the original mosaic pedestrian sidewalks.