Hadrian’s building operations in Jerusalem.
The Ecce Homo Arch forms the 2nd station of the Cross, commemorating the site where Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the cross.
The arch was built in honor of the visit of the emperor Hadrian to the city of Jerusalem in the year 135, on the occasion of his victory over the Jews in the 2nd rebellion, known as the Bar Kochba Rebellion.
” At Jerusalem Hadrian founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to Jupiter. This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there.” Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.12.
During his journey to the eastern part of the Roman Empire in the years 130-131, to visit his Syrian Dominions, Emperor Hadrian ordered that a pagan colony be established in Jerusalem, to be named Aelia Capitolina.
Aelia is derived from the emperor's family name, and Capitolina is from Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom a temple was built on the site of the Jewish temple. The establishment of Aelia Capitolina ignited Bar Kokhba's revolt of 132-135.
The Ecce Homo Arch signified the culmination of the great building operations started by the emperor Hadrian in the year 131.
Jerusalem had become forgotten and the Roman City of Aelia Capitolina stood to the North of Jerusalem's ruins. The Tenth Roman Legion was stationed in Jerusalem to watch over the ruins and keep the Jews from returning to live in the city and from visiting the Temple Mount.
Gate under the Damascus Gate.
The elaborate city gate, to be seen under the Damascus Gate, was undoubtedly built by Hadrian to mark the northern border of the unwalled Roman colony. (1)
The northern wall was built in the 3rd Cen (2) Probably because of the poor security situation in the city at that time.
Above the eastern entrance to the city, one can still see a fragmentary inscription in Latin, probably in secondary use, which ends ".. by the decree of the decurions of Aelia Capitolina."
The northern city gate, where the Damascus Gate stands today, was in use during the second and third centuries. Its side entrances were blocked during the Byzantine and Early Arab periods. Later, the Crusaders built a new, fortified gate at a much higher level, thus unwittingly preserving the remains of the Roman gate below it.
The Roman gate of Aelia Capitolina has been restored and opened to the public; upon descending below the bridge leading to the Ottoman Damascus Gate, one can enter once again through this early gate into the city or climb the original stairs to the walkway, the Ramparts Walk, along the Old City walls to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Old City and the Temple Mount.