HEROD'S PALACE IN JERUSALEM
A model of the palace complex built by Herod the Great in Jerusalem
There was a sequence of palaces in Jerusalem -
The third and most magnificent Royal Palace, built by King Herod the Great, was enormous, with two large wings. The whole structure was raised on a podium, creating a platform suitable for gardens and pools.
It was overlooked by the three great towers to the north: the Phassaelus, Hippicus and Mariamme, named after Herod's dead brother, his friend and his wife.
Here is how the 1st century AD historian Josephus describes it:
'......he (Herod) built himself a palace in the upper city, raising the rooms to a very great height, and adorning them with the most costly furniture of gold, and marble seats, and beds; and these were so large that they could contain very many companies of men.'
'.....the king had a palace built, which exceeds all ability to describe it; for it was so very curious as to want no cost or skill in its construction, but was entirely walled about to the height of thirty cubits, and was adorned with towers at equal distances, and with large bed chambers, that would contain beds for a hundred guests apiece; in which the variety of the stones is not to be expressed; for a large quantity of those that were rare of that kind was collected together.
A modern historian writes:
'Herod did not begin the real transformation of Jerusalem until about 23BC, when he had just won a good deal of respect in Palestine by his efficiency in providing food and grain for the people during the famine of 25-24BC. Many Jerusalemites had been ruined and were able to find employment as builders once work had begun in the city.
Herod began by building a palace for himself in the Upper City on the Western Hill; it was fortified by three towers, which he named after his brother Phasael, his beloved wife Mariamme the Hasmonean, and his friend Hippicus. .....
The palace itself consisted of two large buildings, one of which was called Caesareum in honor of Octavian, which were joined by enchanting water gardens, where the deep canals and cisterns were lined with bronze statues and fountains.
Herod seems to have also redesigned the streets of the Upper City into a gridded system, which made traffic and town planning easier.
In addition, the Upper City had a theater and a hippodrome, though we do not know the exact location of these buildings. Every five years, games were held in honor of Augustus, which drew crowds of distinguished athletes to Jerusalem.'Quoted from 'Jerusalem, One City, Three Faiths', Karen Armstrong, p128
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