First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…
FOLIO LXIII verso and LXIIII recto

Size 10" X 20½"

This large and unusual woodcut (Destruccio Iherosolime), together with the accompanying text, concludes the fourth age of the world. It covers the greater part of Folio LXIII verso and LXIIII recto and consists of two blocks. As one casually glances at this panorama of the Holy City one does not realize that a catastrophe is at hand. The city is pictured in a very hilly terrain and is itself located on a rather rotund elevation. It is surrounded by a wall that does not appear to have been seriously damaged, except in the lower right hand corner of the woodcut. Only two entrance gates are shown—Porta Aurea and Porta Gregis—neither of which have been destroyed; in fact, the outskirts of the city and the surrounding wall give no evidence of a siege, being entirely deserted.

We should feel grateful, in view of past performances on the part of the woodcutters, that this has not been depicted as a medieval European city; for with its abundance of muezzin towers and mosques, occasionally surmounted by a crescent, its squat and square abodes and dearth of vegetation, we are truly reminded of a Middle Eastern city.

Let us enter at the Porta Gregis. Immediately on our right, is the house of St. Anne (Dom(us) S. Ane), and diagonally across the street the domicile of Pilate (Dom(us) Pilatum). We proceed northward, and where the highway broadens into a plaza we see the house of Herod (Dom(us) Herod), also on our right. So far all have been squat, square structures with flat roofs. But as we go on we come to an elaborate building resembling a mosque. It has a large open forecourt and is flanked by a minaret on one side, a nondescript tower on the other. It is the uppermost structure in the picture, and bears the inscription "Calvarie."

Had we veered to the left from the plaza before the House of Herod, we should have passed a structure on our right inscribed with the words "Dom(us) Divitis" (?)—and changing our course to the north, we would have entered the "Porta vet(us)" leading into a sepulcher or tomb resembling an ink bottle in form, and whose inscription is doubtful. From the rear of this tomb a rather steep road leads upward and apparently down behind the city. As we ascend we meet two armed warriors on horseback, and another on foot. They have apparently been up to mischief for on either side of the road two huge square towers have been broken off at their bases, and toppled over in opposite directions. Just before we caught up with the first of these horsemen, we passed (on our left) the "Atria Soldanis,"—probably the atrium or forecourt to the Sultan's Palace.

Had we here turned westward (instead of proceeding to the north), and made our way down the hill to the left, we should have encountered the House of Caiaphas, the Temple of Mary (Teplu(m) Marie), another house of Anne, or the house of another Anne, as the case may be (Dom(us) Ane), and another structure of doubtful inscription.

So far our journey has been rather uneventful except for some of the disturbed masonry. But suddenly it becomes apparent that the grotesque structure, center left, entitled, "Teplu(m) Salomo(n)is," or "Temple of Solomon" is ablaze. In the left forecourt are two Turks engaged in friendly conversation, and in the forecourt to the right three or four persons promenade about as though they neither saw the flames, felt the heat, nor smelled the smoke of the conflagration that is engulfing the Temple.

To the extreme right of the panorama the way leads to Bethlehem, the direction being inscribed on a gabled house nestling between three towers. At the left of the city a road leads to an unnamed castle.

Mr. Bullen, in his observations on the Chronicle, remarks that the interest of this woodcut lies solely in its anachronisms, and to be sure there are such to the most superficial student of the architecture of the various periods and countries. Note for instance the Gothic spires that have been affixed to the lower stories of the two minarets on the left. But the greatest anachronism occurs at the extreme left, on the Mount of Satan (Muasatana), an elongated sugar-loaf affair, upon the summit of which appear two sketchy figures—one in a long robe and halo, the other in the nude and horned, the horns resembling the antennae of an insect.
We are at once reminded Luke 4:5-9:

And the devil taking him up into a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to him, All this power will I give you, and the glory of them; for that is delivered to me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If you therefore will worship me, all will be yours. And Jesus answered and said to him, Get behind me, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here,….
(See also Matthew 4:1-11)

It is apparent from the text of Luke, as well as that of Matthew, that these gospels narrate that Satan twice tempted Jesus by this means, once taking him on a high mountain to show him the kingdom of the world, and again bringing him to Jerusalem and setting him on a pinnacle of the temple. The eminence upon which the figures stand is a pinnacle, but not the pinnacle of a temple, while on the other hand the ascending roadway, and the doors opening into the pinnacle contradict the theory of its being a natural formation. The fact remains, however, that we are at Jerusalem and that Satan is showing the Jesus the city. It is uncertain whether at this particular time Satan is offering Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world" if Jesus will worship him, or whether he is tempting him to cast himself down from the pinnacle in order to prove that he will be saved by God.

According to the chronicler, Jerusalem was destroyed five times. And, according to other writers, many more. Which of these destructions the artist had in mind is uncertain but the nearest one to the time of Jesus is that which occurred in 70 CE, when the city was besieged by Titus and was totally razed to the ground.