JERUSALEM — A new art and tourism project featuring 10 original and reproduced mosaics was unveiled on July 25 by Israel’s Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Zeev Elkin, at the Cardo in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.
“The project, ‘Jerusalem of Mosaics,’ is another step in branding the Jewish Quarter as a location that tells a story,” said Itay Bezalel, CEO of the Jewish Quarter Restoration and Development Company.
“The mosaic stones represent an ancient form of art and therefore blend admirably with the Byzantine paintings along the ancient street.”
The mosaic project tells the history of the Cardo, the main street and commercial center of the city of Jerusalem in the Roman period.
After Emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina in around 130 BCE, the main street, known as the Cardo Maximus, ran from north to south.
The Roman thoroughfare was lined with shops and vendors and served as a hub of economic and cultural life.
The Cardo’s most striking visual feature was its Roman colonnade, which according to some historians was among the grandest in the ancient Roman world.
The Cardo and its colonnade are a main feature of the Madaba Mosaic Map, likely the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and Jerusalem.
The 10 mosaic art pieces unveiled July 25 consist of a reproduction of the Madaba Map. The original is located in the early Byzantine church of Saint George in Madaba, Jordan.
The other nine mosaics in the project, reproduced by the Eilon Mosaic company at Kibbutz Eilon, depict shops that used to occupy the historic street. Examples include a mosaic of a fabric shop inspired by the famous mosaics of Ravenna, Italy, and a mosaic of a glassware shop, reproduced from an actual Roman mosaic discovered in Caesarea.
The mosaics were placed among the modern stores currently lining the Cardo, creating a contrast between past and present.