Jerusalem, the holy city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, has
been the focus of numerous volumes of history, chronicles, biblical
exegeses, and itineraries. Many of these works include maps and
views of the city itself. These pictorial items increased in number
continuously with the development of printing methods since the
17th century. Before the advent of print, maps of Jerusalem and
other manuscripts of the city were often inscribed on vellum, or
more rarely created as wall or floor mosaics. Since the first printed
map of Jerusalem appeared in the late 15th century until the beginning
of the nineteenth century, when maps began to be based on accurate
surveys, more than 300 maps of Jerusalem were designed and printed.
Most maps of Jerusalem were not created to fill the utilitarian
purpose of modern maps. They were not drawn to help travelers find
their way. Some of them do not even depict the city as it existed.
They served as a medium of conveying information, a viewpoint and
a concept. This role of maps is not unique to the ancient maps of
Jerusalem, but is characteristic of many maps, both current and
past. However, the singular status of Jerusalem as a holy city,
a focus of interest and of strong religious attraction, led to the
creation of numerous maps depicting that city, more often through
concepts rather than from a purely geographical aspect.
Maps were included in many editions of the works of Josephus,
the Bible and biblical exegeses, as well as in historical chronicles
which mentioned Jerusalem, usually in conjunction with the discussion
of the Holy City, its temples, palaces and other sites. Christian
pilgrims, inspired by the Psalm to "worship at the place where
his feet have stood"(132:7), required maps for travel and left
accounts of their own.
Eusebius records how Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine,
visited Jerusalem shortly before her death in the 4th century. Her
historic pilgrimage and the churches she sponsored encouraged many
to follow her example.
Indeed, intense emotional and religious ties linked European Christians
to Jerusalem during the Middle Ages and later centuries. However,
only a handful of Christians actually visited Jerusalem because
the city was so distant and was under hostile Muslim rule. Moreover,
the journey was long, expensive and dangerous. These factors encouraged
the making of maps of Jerusalem as a substitute. Many impressionistic
descriptions of the city were created in Christian Europe. Mostly,
they were impressions of a Jerusalem that existed in the hearts
and minds of European Christian mapmakers and readers, and less
depictions of the terrestrial Jerusalem.
Until the early 19th century, maps of Jerusalem tended to be artistic
drawings of landscapes, without measurements, scale or accurate
perspective. Scenes and locations from different historical periods
were depicted side by side, combining the representation of real
locations with the biblical concepts associated with them. Because
of their popularity, many early maps of Jerusalem have survived.
Next >> The history
of Jerusalem's maps (The Byzantine period)