King Herod’s Palace.
Yes, that same King Herod.
He built a palace. In fact, several palaces. A great builder of his time, Herod constructed his primary residence in Jerusalem. It was a massive structure, second in importance only to the Temple. Nothing remains today of that palace. Herod was an ambitious king who constructed numerous palaces, all designed and named by himself. (Who knew?) Herod had palaces at Masada, Herodium and Caesarea Maritima. He built a winter palace near Jericho.
On my first day of touring in September 2013, Farouk took me to see the fortress of Herodium, situated southwest of Jerusalem in West Bank. As with most landmarks throughout the West Bank, Israelis (not Palestinians) administered and collected all tourist revenues.
Herodium is a massive structure, built on a cone-shaped artificial mountain. Not just the palace, but also the mountain upon which it sits, were made by slave labor. Roaming through rooms and courtyards and tunnels and hallways of a two-thousand-year-old castle was not a typical modern American experience. From an aerial view, Herodium resembles a Hawaiian lava cone.
Imagining a half-dozen palatial structures, built by one monarch, a familiar name from Bible stories–that was impressive and unexpected.Two thousand years have erased most of the colorful splendor. Everything in the palace is the color of Palestinian desert sands. Yet the four towers, bathhouse, courtyards, a theatre, banquet rooms, the large walkway, and the extravagant living quarters. It was indeed impressive. Farouk used my cell phone to take pictures, some of the few that I have of my time in West Bank.