A short drive south of Jerusalem lies a man-made mountain called Herodium. King Herod decided to construct his tomb at Herodium because the site played a role in two important events in his life.
The ruins of this fortress and lower palace are quite intact. Herod's tomb is located in the side of the mountain and is not accessible. There is quite a climb up the side of the mountain, but well worth it. There is a small visitors center with gift shop and be sure to watch the movie before visiting the site. Wear good hiking shoes and do not attempt if you are afraid of heights It is always good to know the history of the site before visiting, so I have included a short synopsis.
In the year 43 BCE, when Herod was still governor of the Galilee, he was forced to flee Jerusalem along with his family after his enemies laid siege to the city.
His mother's chariot flipped over near Herodium, and Herod became hysterical until he realized she was only lightly wounded. A short while later, the Parthians caught up to Herod and his entourage, although Herod and his men emerged victorious in the ensuing battle.
At Herodium, Herod built one of the largest complexes in the Roman Empire, which served as a residential palace, a sanctuary, an administrative center and a mausoleum. Herod first built an artificial cone-shaped hill that could be seen from Jerusalem, on which he constructed a fortified palace surrounded by watchtowers that he used solely in wartime.
At the base of the hill, he built an additional palace, which was the size of a small town and known as "Lower Herodium." The palace included many buildings, fancy gardens, pools, stables, and storage areas.
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