One of the highlights of my recent Israel adventure, was a visit to Herodium, the ancient palace of King Herod. Built in the third decade, BCE.

Herodium selfie
The author with Herodium visible on top of the mountain behind him

The day trip took us from Jerusalem across the border into what’s politcally known as the West Bank. We passed some areas with big red signs indicating Israelis were not permitted to enter. Our guide informed us the Herodium site has been neglected by tourists but the current climate of relative peace means more do venture here. We saw many cars and even a few tour buses during our visit.

The site itself is a large mountain complex with a fortress and luxurious palace at the top. There are Roman baths and a large amphitheater. Herod is the same guy who built Masada and this is also an amazing piece of engineering and construction, making ideal use of the physical geography. It’s well preserved with some re-construction and with a good guide, it’s a fascinating day-trip from Jerusalem.

Herodium model
A model of ancient Herodium
Herodium today
A view of Herodium today
Herodium amphitheatre
The amphitheatre at Herodium

As an added bonus, we had an opportunity to see some archaeology in action, as they are restoring what’s called the Royal chamber. This ornately painted room (those are the original colors) was believed to be kind of the VIP room for the theater where the king and his entourage would relax.

Restoring paintings
An archaeologist restores paintings in the royal room

In addition to the mountaintop area, there is a lower palace area, with more Roman baths (including some amazing mosaics) and a huge pool. The pool is surrounded by columns and it’s said the king would sail around it in a boat.

Herodium pool
The lower palace area, featuring a large pool, surrounded by columns, with an island in the middle