The West Bank’s Harodium is a truncated cone-shaped hill that is located 5 miles (3.1 kilometers) southeast of Bethlehem and 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of Jerusalem. It is situated south of a military facility and between the Palestinian communities of Za’atara and Jannatah. It is also close to the Israeli community of Sdeh Bar.
The location had numerous names until Biblical Researches in Palestine was published in 1841, including Frank Mountain, the Mountain of Little Paradise, and Bethulia. Edward Robinson identified the location as Herodium based on a description given in Josephus. Between 23 and 15 BCE, a palace stronghold and a small town bearing Herod the Great’s name were erected, according to Josephus.
Herodium, where King Herod’s man-made mountain castle and his more recently excavated tomb were found, is located little under an hour’s drive from Bethlehem. It was Herod’s fortification and opulent palace, built upon a tiny natural hill. A man-made swimming pool more than double the size of a current Olympic swimming pool that was deep enough for boats was a feature of the spectacular seven-story building. Water was delivered through aqueduct from a spring that was located around 6 kilometers distant. The Dead Sea, the Judean Desert, and the Moab Mountains could all be seen from four watchtowers. When visiting Bethlehem, you should definitely make a trip at this collection of antiquated ruins.
It is a significant archaeological site and the location of a magnificent palace built during King Herod’s reign. The site, which is roughly 10 km south of Jerusalem, also served as Herod’s final resting place, giving the hill its tumulus-like appearance. The “Mountain of Paradise” or “Jabal al-Fourdis” is the name of this area.
Between 37 BC to 4 BC, Herod served as the brutal representative of Rome in Judea. However, Herod was also a visionary and built many of Israel’s most accomplished architectural works that still stand today. The Second Temple in Jerusalem, the palace-fortress on Mount Masada, and the spectacular port of Caesarea were among the projects he was in charge of.
It needed the effort of several slaves and artisans to reshape the hilltop in order to create not just a pleasure palace but also a fortified safe refuge for the emperor. A large pool that was prominently located on the summit was filled with water from nearby springs that were diverted to supply the aqueduct system, irrigate the gardens, and fill the pool. There were gardens, opulent halls, and chambers inside the compound. There are expansive views of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and the Judean Desert from the palace’s hilltop perch.
THINGS TO SEE
The Palace: Originally, this ornate structure had seven floors and towers at each of its four corners. The fortress/palace was constructed by erecting two earth-filled cylindrical concentric walls.
The bathhouse, which had a steam room, a cold bathroom, a changing room, and a room for stretching, is still there. The baths has frescos painted on the walls and mosaic flooring.
Synagogue – After the Jewish rebels in the Great Revolt had gained control of the area, they transformed what was likely a dining room into a synagogue. The rebels afterwards built tunnels through the artificial hill during the Bar Kokhbar Revolt, which lasted from from 132 AD to 135 AD.
Churches – Christian monks visited after the Jewish occupation, and three churches with mosaic floors have been found there.
Herod’s two-story mausoleum was discovered, along with a richly adorned limestone coffin thought to be his.
Tunnels – Visitors can explore the illuminated tunnels that the Jewish insurgents dug during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.
It takes around 1-2 hours to explore it on your own. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are guided tours in Hebrew, and English tours may be arranged.
There are signs pointing you in the direction on the Har Homa-Teko’a-Nokdim Road #356, which is accessible from about 2 kilometers before the Teko’a junction.
One hour prior to the stated closing time, the entrance to Park closes.
Summer hours are Sunday through Thursday and Saturday from 8:00 to 17:00 (April to September). Weekend eves and Friday: 8:00–16:00
Winter hours are Sunday through Thursday and Saturday from 8:00 to 16:00 (October to March). Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 to 15:00 Evenings of holidays: 8:00–13:30 Yom Kippur night: 8:00–13:30
Adult entrance ₪ 29.00
Child entrance ₪ 15.00
Student ₪ 25.00
Israeli senior citizen ₪ 15.00