The Antonia Fortress - The Modern Site
Today in Jerusalemís old city the street that begins at St. Stephenís Gate
passes directly above the traditional site of the Antonia Fortress. There is a
Convent and a Church resting upon the north half of the site.
There is still remaining at the site a large area of the central courtyard of
the fortress (165 sq. feet). The original pavements of stones are still in place
(about 1 foot thick). Their channels made the rainwater to flow into cisterns as
they do today. It is interesting that the soldiersí scratching from various
games into the pavement stones is still visible.
Titus and the Roman legions had completely destroyed the fortress. Later the
Temple area and the Antonia Fortress area were the location of two fora in the
Emperor Hadrianís forum (Aelia Capitolina), which was built over the ruins of
Jerusalem 100 years after its destruction. Many of the remains on the site of
the Antonia Fortress are traced to Hadrianís forum. The exact location is not
conclusive and according to experts some of the remains of columns, capitals,
etc. in the area of Antonia come from Herodís time and some from the time of
Hadrian (117-138 A.D.).
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
The western wall was built upon the edge of the cliff overlooking the Tyropoeon
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
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
The Northwest Corner of the Temple (see picture below).
These photos are
from an archaeological reproduction of first century Jerusalem, located in Jerusalem.
The Fortress of
Antonia was built in 35 B.C. and named in honor of Herodís friend and Roman
Triumvir Marcus Antonius also known as Mark Antony. It was actually Mark Anthony
who had requested that the Senate make Herod King of Judea as an eastern
boundary to the Roman Empire. At some point the Romans took over the Antonia
Fortress and placed a garrison there.
attacked the city of Jerusalem from the north side in 70 A.D. and overcame it.
The legions of Rome slaughtered over a million Jews and 95,000 Jewish captives
were taken away as prisoners.
The Antonio Fortress
The Antonia Fortress
The Story of the Bible
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