Ecce Homo Arch (Hadrian's Arch)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Ecce Homo Arch also known as the Hadrian's Arch was an impressive triple arched Roman gateway traditionally believed to be the location of Pontius Pilate's Ecce Homo speech, reported by the Bible. The arch was built in the 2nd century CE during the time of Emperor Hadrian, as the entrance gate leading into the Roman Forum (the public square) of Aelia Capitolina.

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As it was originally a triumphal arch it may have looked something like Arch of Constantine in Rome. Today only the middle large arch is partially visible from the street, known as the Ecce Homo Arch this is the central span of what was originally a triple-arched gateway. It supports a small room with barred windows. It was similar in purpose to the Arch of Titus in Rome commemorating the 70 CE victory over the Jews.


circa 150 CE

The Triumphal Arch
The reconstruction of the Ecce Homo Arch, the remains of the original arch are shown here in dark bricks. The smaller arch on the left is today a part of Church of Ecce Homo. The right side arch was incorporated into a monastery for Uzbek dervishes in the Order of the Golden Chain, but this monastery (zawiyya) was later demolished, taking the arch with it.

circa 150 CE

The triumphal arch was part of a larger complex of buildings in the area. Hadrian installed a vaulted ceiling over the pool to allow the construction of his forum plaza. Today known as the Lithostrotos (gabbatha), the remains of this plaza can still be seen beneath the Convent of Ecce Homo. The reconstruction shows the Hadrian's triumphal arch (Ecce Homo Arch) and the Lithostrotos which was built over the area where the Struthion Pool was located,

Archaeological Remains

circa 150 CE

Today, the original arch built by Hadrian remains in ruins. Only the central span and the northern arch remain partially standing. The northernmost small arch integrated in the Basilica of Ecce Homo, originally it would have allowed access in to the forum of Hadrian. The central span of the arch continues through the wall of the convent chapel, where the smaller northern arch (pictured here) now frames the tabernacle, under a Byzantine cross on a gilded mosaic backdrop.

Identification with Antonia Fortress

circa 150 CE

Ecce Homo Arch, 1864, Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, James McDonald. Traditionally, the arch was said to have been part of the gate of Herod’s Antonia Fortress, which itself was alleged to be the location of Jesus’ trial by Pontius Pilate.

However, since the late 1970’s, archaeologists have established that the arch was a triple-arched gateway built by Hadrian. It served as the eastern entrance of the Forum of Aelia Capitolina located to the west of the main north-south cardo.

Connection with Via Dolorosa


Today the arch lies near the start of the modern day Via Dolorosa. Lately an inscription has been carved under the Arch of Ecce Homo (originally built by Hadrian in 135 CE). This processional path is known by several names, most commonly known naes are "Way of Grief," "Way of Sorrow," "Way of Suffering" or simply "Painful Way".


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