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Madaba Map Marked

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Madaba Map Marked
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Quick look - the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the yellow-domed structure just to the right of the letter "C."

Descriptive commentary on the Jerusalem portion of the Madaba Map follows. For a brief description of the map and an image of the map, unmarked, Click Here.

The viewer of the map is positioned above and west of the city — looking down and east. North is to the left and south to the right. Note the white tiles of the western wall of the city which runs counter clockwise from #1 to #6 to #10.


Numbers 1-6 mark Byzantine Gates, which closely correspond to gates still in existence. Beginning on the north (left) side of the map and working in a clockwise direction:

1.  The current Damascus Gate that was called "St. Stephen's Gate" in the sixth century when the map was designed. Note the two towers flanking the gate. Just to the right (south) of the gate is a plaza in white tile outlined by yellow tiles with a column in it. The column has long disappeared but the name of this gate in Arabic is "Bab el–Amud," the "Gate of the Column!"

2. Currently St. Stephen's or the Lions Gate. In the Byzantine period it was called the Gate of Maryam.

3. Below the number 3 is a small gate — now called the Golden Gate.

4. Below and to the left of the number 4 — the Dung Gate.

5. Below and to the left of the number 5 — the Zion Gate. In the sixth century located east of the current Zion Gate.

6. Above the number 6 — the Jaffa Gate or in Arabic "Bab el–Halil," "The Gate of the "Friend [of God]" (= Abraham, and the road from here leads south to Hebron [burial place of Abraham]).


7. The white and yellow tiles representing a street running east, and then turning 90 degrees to the south — towards Mt. Zion. This street still exists today.

8. The white and yellow tiles representing a street running right (south) from the Damascus Gate (#1). Note the rows of columns on both sides of the street — peeled back for viewing. Nahum Avigad found southern portions of this street in his excavations in the Jewish quarter. The street is called the "Cardo."

9. The white and yellow tiles representing a street running southeast from the Damascus Gate (#1) towards, but past #2 "St. Stephen's Gate." This street today is called "el–Wad," the "Valley" street. It follows the line of the Central Valley of Jerusalem.


A. The red, two line, Greek inscription on white background to the right of the letter A says "The Holy City of Jerusalem."

B. The white Greek inscription to the right of the letter "B" says "Akeldama," the "field of blood" (Acts 1:9) representing where Judas went out and hanged himself (Matt 27:6-8). It is just outside of the city. This location on the map is different than the current traditional site of Akeldama, which is closer to where #10 is located.


C. To the right (south) of the letter "C" is a red roofed building — the current "Church of the Holy Sepulcher" or "Church of the Resurrection." Note how this is the only building that is "upside down" from the perspective of the viewer. The yellow dome of the rotunda over the tomb of Jesus is clearly visible. Above it, to the east is red roof of the main church. Its yellow gable on the east is visible as are its three eastern door and four steps leading down to the cardo street (#8). To the left (north) of #7, the red diamond shape marks the roof of the bell tower of the church.

D. To the left and below the letter "D" the red roof and two yellow doors mark the Nea Church = "New Church of the Mother of God). This church was built by, and dedicated by the emperor Justinian in 543. Avigad has found its foundations in his excavations in the Jewish Quarter. Note how the Cardo (#8) runs from Damascus Gate (#1) to the Nea Church ("D").

E. To the left (north) of the letter "E" are the red roof and the yellow door of the Basilica of Mount Zion. This church is often called the "Mother of all Churches" for it is believed that the early Christian community in Jerusalem met in this vicinity.

For easy access to a descriptive commentary on the Madaba Map see Herbert Donner, The Mosaic Map of Madaba. Palaestina Antiqua, vol. 7, ed. C. J. de Geus. Kampen, The Netherlands: Kok Pharos Publishing House, 1992.