Herod's Palace (Holyland Model of Jerusalem)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Model of the Herod's Palace in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem, is a scale reconstruction of the first century BCE royal palace built by Herod the Great. Today the Tower of David stands the approximate location. Herod's Palace in Jerusalem was built in the last quarter of the 1st century BCE by Herod I the Great, King of Judea from 37 BCE to 4 BCE. It was the second most important building in Jerusalem, after the Second Temple itself.


In Herod’s day the palace was situated [locate] at the northwestern wall of the Upper City of Jerusalem. Herod lived in it as a principal residence, but not permanently, as he owned other palace-fortresses, notably at Masada, Herodium and Caesarea Maritima.

Nothing remains of the Jerusalem Palace today except for portions of the surrounding wall-and-tower complex, much altered and generally known as "the Jerusalem Citadel" (Tower of David). The site of the former palace is now occupied by the Tower of David Museum, a police station, and a former Turkish barracks/prison known as the Kishle.

circa 10 CE

Herod's palace-fortress in Jerusalem stood along the western city wall, in the area now taken by the Armenian Quarter, starting in the north at the Kishle building and ending at the present line of the modern (Ottoman period) wall west of Zion Gate. It consisted mainly of two palace wings placed north and south of a large garden.

circa 10 CE

Immediately north of the complex, in the area of today's Citadel and Jaffa Gate, Herod erected three huge towers, as an additional protection and last refuge in case of danger. These he called after people close to him - Hippicus after a friend, Phasael after his brother, and Mariamne after his favourite wife. These towers strengthened the northwest corner of the First Wall, the city wall built by the Hasmoneans sometime between 142-BCE.

circa 10 CE

Of the three towers, only the massive lower part of the Hippicus Tower (or the Phasael Tower, after some researchers have survived. Remains of two older, Hasmonean towers (the Southern and Middle Towers) have been found in the present Citadel courtyard, which are unrelated to the missing Herodian towers. The Phasael Tower was the largest. It was named after Herod's brother and stood 145 feet high. The Hippicus Tower was named after a friend of Herod and stood 132 feet high. The Mariamne Tower was named after Herod’s Hasmonean wife whom he had executed. Josephus said that "the king considering it appropriate that the tower named after a woman should surpass in decoration those called after men." It stood 74 feet high and was accounted the most beautiful of the three.

circa 10 CE

As with his Temple, Herod's Jerusalem Palace was constructed on an elevated platform of about 1,000 feet (north-south) by 180 feet (east-west). Resting on a series of retaining walls rising 13 to 16 feet above ground level. It consisted of two main buildings, each with its own banquet halls, baths, and accommodations for hundreds of guests. The two wings were named after Agrippa and Caesar. In the center of the palace were gardens with porticoes. The grounds included groves, canals, and ponds fitted with bronze fountains.

circa 10 CE

The praetorium at the Palace was, after Herod's death, the official residence of the Roman governors when they came to Jerusalem during major Jewish festivals. This was probably the site of the trial of Jesus of Nazareth by Pontius Pilate. At the creation of the Roman province of Judaea in the year 6 CE, its governors—holding the rank of a prefect until the year 41 and that of a procurator after that—took up residence in Herod's palace. In 66 CE, the Roman governor Gessius Florus set up a mass crucifixion of Jews, sparking the First Jewish Rebellion.

circa 10 CE

Rebelling Jews entered and burnt the palace. Only the three towers remained partially standing. When the future Roman emperor Titus destroyed most of Jerusalem in 70 CE, he spared these and set up the camp of the Tenth Legion Fretensis in the area of the palace ruins, a camp which covered the entire Western Hill. One of the towers—a rebuilt Hippicus (or Phasael) Tower on its intact base—became known as the "Tower of David".

circa 10 CE

The Upper Market (Agora) [locate], was not far from the Temple in the northeastern corner of the Upper City on Mount Zion. The area east of Herod's Palace was known as the Upper City, this is where the wealthy Jews lived. In front of the Palace was the Upper Agora which was a marketplace, a market square or forum).

circa 10 CE

This was due to the fact that during the Byzantine Period, the Western Hill had been mistakenly identified as Mount Zion and the remains of the one surviving Herodian tower were presumed to be King David's palace.


See Also


Let's bring some history to your inbox

Signup for our monthly newsletter / online magazine.
No spam, we promise.

Privacy Policy