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Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Praetorium)
The Fortress of Antonia was partly surrounded by a deep ravine 165 feet wide. It functioned as headquarters for the Roman soldiers, a palace and a barracks. Herod constructed a secret passage from the fortress to the Temple and Josephus described that this is where Aristobulus was killed.
The Fortress of Antonia was built on a rock hill, which was much higher than the Temple area (75 feet), on the northwest side. The castleís 4 walls were interesting:
The western wall was built upon the edge of the cliff overlooking the Tyropoeon Valley.
The north wall was directly across the hill Bezetha and there was a deep mote between them. The rock hid the Temple from view on this side according to Josephus.
The southern wall one could see over the entire Temple area.
The eastern wall overlooked the Pool of Bethesda and the Kidron Valley.
Josephus is the authoritative source for the description of the Antonia Fortress and he wrote about its interior. It is described as a small city, a palace for a king and a barracks for many soldiers. There were apartments, cloisters, baths and large courtyards. There were also stairs that led down from the Fortress to the porticoes of the Temple court at the extreme north side. It is also written that there was a deep passageway underground, which went from the fortress to the Court of Israel, mainly for uprisings and emergencies.
When Titus initiated his extreme assault into the Temple area it was from the Antonia Fortress.
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