Herodium

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Background: The Herodium, known by Crusaders as the “Mountain of Franks” and by the Arabs as “Mountain of Paradise,” is a volcano like hill near Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Herod the Great built a fortress palace on top of the mount commemorating his victory over the Parthians there in 40 BCE. It was later destroyed by the Romans in 71 CE, and used again during the Bar Kokhba revolt (from which the remains of a synagogue are still visible). In 2007, excavations led by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported to have found the tomb of Herod, and excavations are still going on.

Impressions: The ruins of Herodium are impressive but not more so than that of Caesarea. At the base of the mountain is a large collection of pillars and the remains of a pool, used for swimming and mock naval battles (last photos). But what makes Herodium special is the ruins on the top of the mount, dug into the mountain itself. Your visit starts midway up the mountain and you walk along the upper ridge to get a whole view of the ruins within the sunken summit. The fortress was really built within the mountain, instead of on top. Within are ancient warehouses, a palace, and a synagogue. A set of tunnels takes you down into the mountain itself. The interior of the mountain is a hive of cisterns and tunnels which are impressively built and cool to see.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on June 12, 2011.

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