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Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 7.17


Burchard of Mt. Sion was a Dominican friar from Magdeburg in Lower Saxony who wrote the the most important description of the Holy Land from the 13th century. The earliest and longest account of his pilgrimage, which grew particularly popular during the 14th-18th centuries, described his journey from northern Germany to the Levant, where he stayed from 1274 to 1284, shortly before the fall of Acre, the last Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land, in 1291. The content of his description is based upon personal experience, research into ancient writings and earlier itineraries, and close study of scripture. In this passage about Samaria Sebaste, Burchard describes its excellent location with a view to the Mediterranean coast, including Caesarea.


Breviter dico, quod magis non potest dici de civitate ista, que ad tantam miseriam nunc devenit, ut rei veritate sit ortus olerum, sicut Achab, rex eius, facere voluit de vinea Naboth Iesrahelite, eo quod esset prope domum suam. Et revera nunc iusto Dei iudicio non sοlum vinea ipsa, sed et palacium ipsum regis est in ortum olerum commutatum. Situs huius civitatis valde pulcher erat; erat enim inde prospectus usque ad mare Ioppes et Antipatridem et Caesaream Palestine, per totum quoque montem Effraym usque Ramathaym Sophim et ad Carmelum maris iuxta Accon. Et habundat fontibus et ortis et olivetis et bonis omnibus que requirit mundus iste.1

Textual Note

Ed. Laurent 1873


In short, there is no more to be said about this city (sc. Samaria Sebaste), which has now come to such misery that in real truth it is a garden of herbs, just like Ahab, its king, wanted to make of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, because it was near his house. Indeed today, by the just judgement of God, not only that vineyard but also the king’s palace itself have been turned into a garden of herbs. The location of this city was very beautiful: the view from there (stretched) as far as the sea at Joppa, to Antipatris and Caesarea Palestinae, as well as over the entire Mount Ephraim as far as Ramathaim Zophim, and to Carmel by the sea near Acre. It abounds with springs, gardens, olive groves, and all the good things that an honest man requires.2

Translation Note

Adapted from Pringle 2018

Works Cited

  • 1 Burchard of Mt. Sion, Burchardi de Monte Sion descriptio terrae sanctae, in Peregrinatores Medii Aevi Quatuor: Burchardus de Monte Sion, Ricoldus de Monte Crucis, Odoricus de Foro Julii, Wilbrandus de Oldenborg… Editio Secunda accessit Mag. Thietmari Peregrinatio, ed. J. M. C. Laurent, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1873), 1–100, ch: 7.17, p: 54.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record
  • 2 Burchard of Mt. Sion, Burchard of Mt. Sion OP: Description of the Holy Land (1274-85), in Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187-1291, trans. Denys Pringle, Crusade Texts in Translation 23 (London: Routledge, 2018), 241–320, ch: 7.17, p: 277.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record


How to Cite This Entry

Joseph L. Rife, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 7.17,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, entry published October 19, 2022,


Joseph L. Rife, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 7.17.” In Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, edited by Joseph L. Rife., edited by Joseph L. Rife. Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project, 2022. Entry published October 19, 2022.

About this Entry

Entry Title: Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 7.17

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Joseph L. Rife, general editor, Vanderbilt University
  • Joseph L. Rife, editor, Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia
  • David A. Michelson, Daniel L. Schwartz, and William L. Potter, technical editor, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 7.17
  • Joseph L. Rife, entry contributor, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 7.17

Additional Credit:

  • TEI encoding by William L. Potter
  • Electronic text added by Joseph L. Rife
  • Testimonia identified by Joseph L. Rife
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