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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

739)"Cardo": The main Street in the heart of the city and Trade Centre) in Roman cities: Eighth issue "Jerusalem of Gold" Bullion Coin Series in 2018:

739)"Cardo": The  main Street in the heart of the city and Trade Centre) in Roman cities: Eighth issue  "Jerusalem of Gold" Bullion Coin Series issued in 2018:

For other coins issued in this 8 Coin Series, please visit the following links:

Other interesting posts from Israel:

4) "Cardo": The main street in the heart of the city and trade centre) in Roman cities: Eighth issue "Jerusalem of Gold" Bullion Coin Series in 2018

A "Cardo" was the Latin name given to a North-South street in Ancient Roman cities and military camps as part of the city planning process. The "Cardo Maximus" was the main or central North-South oriented street.

The  Cardo Maximus was the hinge or axis of the city and used to be lined with shops and vendors/traders and served as a hub of the economic life of the city/town.

Many Roman cities also had a "Decumanus Maximus", (an East-West street that served as a secondary main street). As business grew, sometimes, the Decumanus Maximus became the main street, while the Cardo served as the secondary street.

The "Forum" (was a public square in a Roman Municipium, chiefly as a market-place along with buildings built for  shops or open stalls) were usually located close to or at the intersection of the Cardo and the Decumanus.

Some known examples of the Cardo, which have survived over the centuries are found in - Apamea (Syria), Jerash (Jordan), Cologne (Germany), Jerusalen (Israel), Beit She'an (Israel), Beirut (Lebanon) et al.

An image of the Obverse and Reverse of the 20 New Israeli Shekel Gold Coin placed against a background/representation of a Roman Cardo

                Another representation of the ancient Roman Cardo

The Jerusalem Cardo:

Aelia Capitolina, the Roman City built by Emperor Hadrian on the ruins of Jerusalem following the Bar Cochba Revolt (132-135 BC) had a Cardo running from Damascus Gate in the North of the city, going Southwards, which was extended further Southwards to Zion Gate by Emperor Justinius in the 6th Century Byzantine period.

Like many Roman colonies, Aelia Capitoline was laid out with a "Hippodamian grid plan" (Hippodamus of Miletus was an ancient Greek architect, urban planner, physician, mathematician, meteorologist and philosopher who is considered to be "the father ofEuropean urban planning").

The Cardo had an open roadway in the centre for carriages and animals. For pedestrians, there were roofed side-walks supported by pillars crowned with impressive Byzantine style Corinthian capitals.

The mosaic map of Jerusalem discovered on a 6th Century Byzantine church floor in Madaba, Jordan, shows the original route of the Cardo and excavations in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem revealed parts of it.

The Map found on the church floor in Madaba of the Cardo in Jerusalem

Present Day - The restored Cardo in the Old City has become a lively tourist area, reflecting the history of Jerusalem. The line of the Cardo Maximus is still visible on the Jewish Quarter Street, though the original pavement lies several  metres below the modern street level (In the 7th Century, when Jerusalem fell under Muslim Rule, the Cardo became an Arab-style market-place. Remains of the Byzantine Cardo were found in the Jewish Quarter excavations in 1969).

Along the colonnaded street, modern shops have taken the place of the ancient Roman shops that were once there. The combination of old and new is also visible on the Street of the Jews, where the shops have been set in old vaults and the gallery is covered by an arched roof containing small apertures to allow for natural lighting.

People from all over the world walk along the side-walk, treading on the same stones, alongside the same stone pillars, all of which are imbued with the unique, enchanting atmosphere of Jerusalem.

The Gold Bullion Coin:

On the Reverse of the 20 New Israeli  Shekel Gold Coin is seen the Madaba Map and in the background, one of the pillars of the Cardo. 

On the upper periphery is mentioned "JERUSALEM" (in English, Hebrew and Arabic). To the right of the pillar is mentioned the denomination of the coin "20 NEW SHEKELS", the mint year "2018" (in both Hebrew and English). Below the inscription, is engraved the "Star of David" mint mark. 

On the lower periphery is mentioned the metal fineness and weight "1 Oz fine Gold .9999" (in Hebrew and English).

On the Obverse of the 20  New Israeli Shekel Gold Coin is seen the Lion of Megiddo with its stylised curved tail, taken from an ancient seal dating back from the 8th Century BC, excavated in Megiddo (Armageddon) in the Jordan Valley. Above the Lion is the State emblem of Israel and below it is mentioned "Israel" (in English, Hebrew and Arabic).

The specifications of the coin are:

Metal Composition: .9999 fineness Gold (Au); Denominational value: 20 New Israeli Shekel (NIS); Coin Quality: Brilliant Uncirculated/Proof; Mint Mark: Star of David; Diameter/Size: 32.0 mm; Weight: 31.1 grams; Mintage: 3,600 pieces; Year of issue: 2018; Designers: Obverse - Meir Eshel; Reverse - Michael Faber.


  1. Vikram Bhatnagar has commented:
    "Interesting information, Rajeev; would now particularly like to see one of these "cardo" things during my next Europe trip."

    1. The Forum (market place) everyone has heard of, Vikram. We even get it in the daily crossword clues. This is the first time, that I heard of a Cardo, which is the Main Street of the market-place. The second street is called the East Street. These existed in the times of ancient Roman cities & military garrisons. Sounds familiar? Why go to Europe: We have our own "Main Street" and East Street" in Camp, Pune, right next to the Military Cantt..!!! I went for a heritage and architectural walk around Shivaji Market in Camp a few years ago. The shops establishment/layout was "eerily" close to the Roman Forum and by default a "Cardo".

    2. Vikram Bhatnagar has further commented:
      "Like Wow! I've heard tell of these in Pune but, haven't been to these streets yet. Gotta make it soon and see them for myself! Thanks again!

  2. Rahul Kumar has commented:

  3. Greeshm Sinha has commented:
    "Dear Rajeev. Thanks for wonderful information. Being a student of history I have really fallen in love for the intricate details you provide with so much passion and effort. Best wishes."

    1. Thanks, GK. Your comments/observations are always insightful and encouraging. The interesting part is that although my hobby is about coins, notes and stamps, the personality, event, place, etc. depicted on them, gives me a chance to learn more about it.