WHERE HEROD LIVED
Herodium was built in two separate areas, each with a distinct function:
The fortress/palace was originally about 30meters high, with seven storeys.
Two of these storeys were underground foundations, strengthened with barrel-vaulted ceilings.
Other levels were used for storage and as quarters for soldiers and servants.
Huge towers projected from the walls on all four sides - visible in this aerial photograph of the Palace, Fortress and Tomb.
The eastern tower - the largest - was a massive round tower on a solid stone base and measured 18meters in diameter. It had several upper stories with elaborate rooms, probably for the royal family and their courtiers. This eastern tower dominated the entire fortress, its roof commanding a view for miles around.
After the fortress was built, an enormous earth rampart was laid against the outer foundations, artificially raising the hill and giving it a conical shape.
The entry-gate to the fortress, in the northeast, was reached via a straight, steep staircase within a corridor built inside the earthen rampart.
THE PRIVATE QUARTERS
Herod's private palace inside the fortress was small but luxurious. It was splendidly decorated with floors of colored tiles, mosaics and wall paintings.
Even though space was limited there was a garden surrounded on three sides by porticoes, with columns topped by Corinthian capitals - see the example at right.
The western portion of the palace had two stories. Its ground floor included:
The roof and upper stories of the palace, once the private apartments of the royal family, no longer exist. Remains of the four towers are still visible.
GARDENS, AND A POOL
At the foot of the hill stood another palace, its walls plastered and painted to imitate masonry. Again, though water was precious, there was a large open pool in the pleasure gardens - a flamboyantly extravagant gesture on Herod's part.
At its center, the pool had a tiny circular pavilion, topped by a domed roof supported by columns. The pool was surrounded by extensive, well-tended gardens.
There were wide porticos around the gardens on three sides - a cool place to sit.
Leading off these porticoes were large rooms along the eastern and the western sides of the pool. An octagonal room at the center of the western hall, decorated with pilasters and frescoes, was probably a reception hall, or perhaps Herod's throne room.
This was where Herod lived. But where did he go when he died?
To find out, go to 'HEROD'S TOMB'
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