Aelia Capitolina

Exploring Jerusalem

Aelia Capitolina was established in Jerusalem by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century CE after he had crushed the Bar Kokhba revolt. Aelia Capitolina was given in honor of Hadrian’s family name, Aelius, and the Capitoline Triad, Jupiter, with Juno and Minerva.

In This Photo: The Roman-Byzantine Cardo

So Aelia Capitolina was built on the ruins of Jerusalem and was designed to be a Roman colony with a grid pattern of streets and public buildings. The establishment of Aelia Capitolina marked a significant turning point in the history of Jerusalem.

The Muristan
In This Photo: The Muristan, Where Was the Roman Forum

For centuries, Jerusalem had been the religious and political center of the Jewish people. However, after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the subsequent Bar Kokhba revolt, the city was left in ruins. Hadrian saw an opportunity to transform Jerusalem into a Roman city and suppress Jewish culture and religion.

Israel Archaeological One Day Tours - Lithostrotos
In This Photo: The Lithostratos: Part of the Roman Pavement of Aelia Capitolina

Building Projects at Aelia Capitolina

So as part of the city’s design, Hadrian built a large temple to Jupiter on the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple. This was a deliberate insult to the Jewish people and their religion, as Jupiter was a Roman god, and the Jews were monotheistic.

Likewise, the temple also served as a reminder of Roman dominance over Jerusalem. In addition to the temple, Aelia Capitolina was home to various public buildings, including a forum, a theater, and a stadium. The city also had several Roman baths and other amenities.

Damascus Gate
Damascus Gate
In This Photo: The Roman Gate Under the Ottoman Damascus Gate

Moreover, these buildings were designed to showcase Roman culture and demonstrate the superiority of Roman civilization. Despite Hadrian’s efforts to suppress Jewish culture and religion, the Jewish people continued to live in and around Jerusalem.

Over time, they developed a uniquely Jewish culture and identity distinct from the Roman culture surrounding them. This cultural fusion would shape Jerusalem’s history and the Jewish people for centuries. Today, the legacy of Aelia Capitolina can still be seen in Jerusalem’s architecture and history.

In This Photo: Hadrian’s Statue, On Display at the Israel Museum

Nowadays, the ruins of the Roman city can be visited at the Western Wall Plaza, where visitors can see the remains of the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple and the Roman arches that once formed part of Aelia Capitolina’s city gates. Despite the destruction and transformation of the city, Jerusalem remains a place of deep spiritual and cultural significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide.


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

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