The story of Jesus’ birth and early life isn’t complete without the story of Herod the Great. Herod was king of the Jews, and he heard that a new king of the Jews – Jesus – had been born, he wanted to get rid of him.
But Herod’s hatred for Jesus wasn’t the only thing we have to remember him by. He also had a great palace built in the Judaean Desert, about six miles from Jerusalem. Just in time for Christmas, Israeli authorities are getting ready to open parts of this palace, the Herodium.
Researchers say there are four towers as well as frescoes, mosaic floors, corridors connected by archways, and even an aqueduct. Springs nearby were moved in using the aqueduct, providing water for the gardens and an enormous pool. The public will be able to visit Herod’s royal hospitality room, which, according to Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, was only available to “the king’s important guests.”
The foyer has striped frescoes in their original royal colors of auburn, green, and black. At the bottom of the stairs, on the other side of Herod’s grave, is the theater with around 300 seats as well as a private booth and royal visiting room. Archaeologists say the king gave orders to have the palace buried after his death. They were to use the ground from below the hill where it sat to cover it until it was no longer visible. The purpose for this was so that his grave would stand out, but it had the added bonus of preserving the structure. And now, people will be able to tour this bit of history.