The Cardo (in Hebrew: HaCardo) was the main street in Ancient Roman cities, running from north to south and lined with a row of columns on each side. The Cardo of Jerusalem begins at the Damascus Gate in the north and crosses the city southwards until the area of the Zion Gate.
The Cardo is depicted in the Madaba Map, part of a floor mosaic dated to the 6th century AD that was discovered in a Byzantine church in Madaba, Jordan. The Madaba Map is a map of the Middle East, and contains the oldest surviving detailed cartographic depiction of Jerusalem.
The northern section of the Cardo stretches from the Damascus Gate to David Street, and dates back to Roman times. The southern section stretches from this point to the length of the western side of the Jewish Quarter and was built in the Byzantine period, in the 6th century AD, continuing the Roman Cardo to its north.
Excavations in the Jewish Quarter, between Chabad Street and HaYehudim Street, have uncovered sections of the Byzantine Cardo extending intermittently for approximately 180 meters.
The Cardo was comprised of a central lane, open to the sky, for the passage of carriages and animals, flanked on each side by colonnaded covered walkways for pedestrians. The road is paved with stone slabs and is 22.5 meters wide. In some sections of the Cardo, excavations revealed covered stalls and workshops that stood alongside the walkways.
In the southern section of the Cardo, buildings from later periods were removed, revealing the Byzantine Cardo level. Some of the columns were restored, and today you can stroll through the Cardo just like the residents of Jerusalem used to in the 6th century AD.
In the northern section of the Cardo, the bazaar built by the Crusaders in the 12th century was uncovered and restored to its function as a shopping area. While the shops there sell modern merchandise, they retain an aura of history.
[Picture caption:] A view of the open section at the entrance of the Cardo from one of the roofed shops at its southern end.