Herodium

D12 on the Map

Jebel Fureidis. Fortress of Herod the Great, and his burial place. Held out after fall of Jerusalem to Romans, A.D. 70. Herod the great built this fortification in the desert in 37 BC. Looking like a volcano, the Herodium is one of several fortress-palaces built by Herod the Great. It was artificially shaped, with everything placed inside its protected craterlike top.

Josephus wrote of this astounding complex, the Herodium:

"Herod built round towers all about the top, and filled the remaining space with costly palaces...he brought a mighty quantity of water from a great distance, and raised an ascent of two hundred steps of purest white marble that led up to it. Its top was crowned with circular towers; its courtyard contained splendid structures." - Jewish Wars FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS

After Herod's death, his body was carried in procession from Jericho to the Herodium outside Bethlehem for burial. Herod's body was adorned in purple, a crown of gold rested on his head, and a scepter of gold was placed in his hand. The bier bearing his body was made of gold and studded with jewels that sparkled as it was carried along under the desert sun. Following the bier was Herod's household and hundreds of slaves, swinging censers. Slowly, the procession inched its way up the mountainside to the Herodium, where it was laid to rest.

Today, the excavated ruins of the Herodium stand out clearly against the blue sky- reminding Bethlehem-bound tourists of the king who sought to kill the child whom they have come so far to honor.

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