Herodium, located south of Jerusalem and east of Bethlehem, on the edge of the Judean Desert, is one of the most fascinating antiquities sites in the country, it was built by King Herod the Great between 23 and 15 BCE, as a combined palace and powerful fortress. The complex was surrounded by a double wall 63 meters in diameter and seven stories high, within which Herod built a palace that included halls, courtyards and opulent bathhouses.
Earth was heaped up around the walls, which created a cone-shaped artificial mountain. At its foot, Herod built a kind of royal ‘country club,’ including a large pool, a bathhouse and a roofed pool.
Despite its desert location, the complex was surrounded by magnificent gardens irrigated by the pool. A special aqueduct from the area of Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem brought water to the palace.
The importance of Herodium to the king is clear from the fact that it is the only place he constructed to which he gave his name. The discovery of Herod’s magnificent tomb there after long years of searching strengthens the understanding that the Judean “builder-king” had a special attachment to this site. Its special charm is also revealed in the breathtaking view from the top, which takes in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the unspoiled Judean Desert.
During the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans the rebels had a base at Herodium, constructing a synagogue there that can still be seen. During the Bar Kokhba Revolt, Jewish fighters hewed tunnels within the artificial mountain, part of which are lit and accessible to visitors.
To order a guided group tour (at an additional fee): Mountain and Valley Education Center, phone/fax 02-654-1255; email@example.com
How to get there:
From Jerusalem: before the entrance to the neighborhood of Har Homa, take the second exit from the traffic circle to the right, and drive approximately 7 km on the Har Homa-Teko'a-Nokdim road (no. 356). Turn left approximately 2 km before the Teko'a junction, following the signs to Herodium and its parking lot.
From central Israel, via the Elah Valley junction: Take road 375 to Betar Ilit and continue on road 60 to the Efrat junction. From there, take road 3157 and road 356 toward Teko'a-Nokdim. Another option from the Ela Valley junction: Take road 367 to the Gush Etsion junction, turn north to Efrat and continue east on road 3157 to a T-junction. From there continue northeast to road 356 to the Herodium junction, located about 2 km after the Teko'a junction.
Length of tour: 1-2 hours.
Best season: year-round.
Don't miss:Underground escape tunnels.
Other facilities and attractions:Snack-bar; souvenirs, guided tours on Fridays and Saturdays at noon in Hebrew, guided tours in English by reservation (see below); lookout over Herod’s tomb.
Hours:April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M- 4 P.M.
Last entry one hour before above closing hour
Phone:050-623-5821 (at site); 057-776-2251; 057-776-1143
To order a guided group tour in English: Mountain and Valley Education Center, phone/fax 02-654-1255; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax / Email:02-625-9783
Entrance fee: Adult NIS 29; child NIS 15;
Israeli senior citizen: NIS 15
Group (over 30 people): Adult NIS 23; child NIS 14