Basic Info About Herodium
Herodium (Herodion) National Park (official site) is a truncated cone-shaped hill, located 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem. It is located behind the green line and driving there may be not very pleasant, but once inside, you will feel safer since you pass security.
Herod himself commissioned a lavish palace to be built between 23 and 15 BCE atop Herodium for all to see. The palace itself consisted of four towers of seven stories, a bathhouse, courtyards, a Roman theatre, banquet rooms, a large walkway (“the course”), as well as extravagant living quarters for himself and guests. Once Herod died and the Great Revolt started, Herodium was abandoned. The Jews eventually had a base at Herodium where they built a synagogue which can still be seen today, unlike much of Herod’s Palace.
Map of the area:
At Herodium National Park
Earth was heaped up around the walls, which created a cone-shaped artificial mountain. At its foot, Herod built a kind of royal ‘country club,’ including a large pool, a bathhouse and a roofed pool.
Despite its desert location, the complex was surrounded by magnificent gardens irrigated by the pool. A special aqueduct from the area of Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem brought water to the palace.
This site is not very big and I would recommend doing the same as we did and joining one of the free guided tours.
The importance of Herodium to the king is clear from the fact that it is the only place he constructed to which he gave his name. The discovery of Herod’s magnificent tomb there after long years of searching strengthens the understanding that the Judean “builder-king” had a special attachment to this site. Its special charm is also revealed in the breathtaking view from the top, which takes in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the unspoiled Judean Desert.
After getting explanation about the site, our guide took us down through ancient tunnels down (it was dark so there are no photos from there). And at the bottom, we finished our tour.
Overall, it was quite a short tour (AFAIR about an hour) a nice one and informative.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional attractions nearby see Jerusalem page.