by Christiaan van Adrichem

The most beautiful map of ancient Jerusalem

It won’t get any better!


Date of first edition: 1590

Date of this edition: 1590

Dimensions (not including margins): 51 x 74,5 cm

Dimensions (including margins): 53,5 x 76,5 cm

Condition: Very good. Sharp copper engraving printed on paper. Old coloured. Large map with wide margins, except top right (possibly previous professional repair). Folded as published: three vertical folds and one horizontal fold.

Condition rating: A+

Map reference:  Laor 7; Nebenzahl p. 94, pl. 35

From: Thearum Terrae Sanctae. Keulen, Officina Birckmannica

Item number:
Holy Land, Middle East & Iran
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Price (without VAT): 4 000,00 (FYI +/- $4 720,00 / £3 560,00)
We charge the following expedition costs in euro: 
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– Rest of Europe: 30 euro
– Rest of the World: 50 euro

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Van Adrichem: the Bible in drawings

This is, without any doubt, the most beautiful and the most mind blowing map of biblical Jerusalem ever. Seen from the West and inspired by a religious cosmic balance, this mythical and virtual city view was built up as a symmetrical rectangle, based upon a misinterpretation of Flavius Josephus (37, Jerusalem – 100, Rome). Historian Christiaan van Adrichem (1533, Delft – 1585, Cologne) refers with 270 figures to scenes from the Old and New Testaments covering David’s era until the fourteen Stations of the Cross with the last five ones on Golgotha (bottom left). The Theatrum Terrae Sanctae actually was an historical study of the locations mentioned in the bible. All holy places were given a number. [see below: Van Adrichem added 10 smaller maps (more or less corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel) and two double folio maps: a large map of the Holy Land and this one on Jerusalem.]

This is an absolutely unique map: both from a visual point of view as well as from a biblical perspective. Van Adrichem’s only intention was to provide a christian view to any and all of his compatriots. He never visited the place. Scenes of the Old and the New Testaments intermingle here in one grand spectacle, culminating in the Passion.

Let’s just stroll around in this marvelous story of our past… just enjoying without any city plan at hand. Here are a few sites to focus on…

Downtown in the Temple complex (detailed, with the Ark of the Covenant along with other holy objects) sits (in red) the high priest (Sedes Regis) (n° 97). Right of the temple square structure van Adrichem places the Palace of Salomon (n° 59) an his throne (n° 113). Left of and close to the complex lives Saint Anna (Maria’s mother) (n° 37). From Pilate’s Palace (n° 57), the Via Dolorosa (with all stations) commences… In the same central part but at the lower side Jacob is beheaded on a market place (n° 47).

Again, let’s be clear: most of the final life of Jesus Christ’s activities in Jerusalem as told in the New Testament is explained on this map in several scenes on the map, all depicted in great detail.

In the right section of the city on the Mons Sion (Civitas David Qvae Est Superior) is the enclosed Palace of King David located (n° 3). Just below van Adrichem shows the scene of the Last Supper (n° 6). As usual (for historical cartography) all constructions are built in the pure renaissance style. Looking at this architecture (such as temples, churches, basilicas, aqueducts, the city walls, villas, houses, fountains, monuments and towers) may one simply not be lost in old Padova, Mantova or Ferrara? Aren’t we back in rinascimento italiano?

Above the city one notices three coats of arms: left is the one of Archbishop Ernest of Cologne, right in the middle thrones the Jerusalem Cross (the origin of this cross is controversial: it might be worn by Godfrey of Bouillon; other historians say that it refers to Jesus and his 4 evangelists) and at the left van Adrichem placed his own the coat of arms. At the top in the center we notice the Ascension (n° 192) and right underneath we notice the betrayal of Judas on the Mount of Olives (n°. 211/212). Ironically, left from the Jerusalem Cross (and just above the city walls), enters a joyous group with Jesus riding a donkey… on Palm Sunday (n° 214).

Left and just outside the city walls van Adrichem illustrates the many sieges, hardships and exiles of the Jewish people, such as Nebuchadnezzar’s tent camp in the 6th century BC (n° 258) and the Roman destruction in the year 70. Top right, Prophet Isaiah is saw in half (n° 225). Bottom left, besides the Mount Gion (n° 259) walk the Supper at Emmaus (“Emmaüsgangers”: n° 257).

At the end of the Stations of the Cross (left under) Christ is crucified amidst two thieves (n° 252). Next to this scene is the presumed tomb of Christ from which He will arise (bottom left corner; n° 237); Symbolically, Judas Iscariot hangs himself on a tree, symmetrically pictured in the lower right corner (n°.234).

A “Where is Wally” question: do you find the toll station through which travelers would necessarily have had to pass on the road to Jerusalem from the north? Have you also noticed the flagellation scene, just outside the eastern wall?

This map had a huge success and was frequently copied until the 18th century. It is oriented north and it remained the definitive layout of the city until the nineteenth century when archaeological discoveries were made which resulted in the reassignment of locations of certain historical places and place names.

This historical work contains three parts: a description of the 12 tribes of the Israelites, a description of Old Jerusalem and a chronology (year by year) of Christianity from creation of the world until the death of Apostle John. Frans Hogenberg engraved this map especifically for van Adrichem. However (and after van Adrichem died), he already published his own “vertical version” of this map in his own Civitatis Orbis Terrarum (Atlas of the cities of the world) in 1588.

Title of this map: Ierusalem, et suberbia eius, sicut tempore Christi floruit … descripta per Christianum Adrichom

Do you recognize detailed pictures of the following Biblical scenes:

  • the Jewish temple;
  • the Palace of Caiaphas;
  • the palace of King Herod;
  • the happy entry on Palm Sunday;
  • Golgotha;
  • Judas committing suicide;
  • this all in an environment of renaissance buildings.

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