Near the border between Judea and Idumea, on the Judean Desert fringe, Herod built Herodium – the largest and most lavish of his palaces, a kind of private kingdom within a kingdom.

On the hilltop stood the Mountain Palace-Fortress, with its well-protected private wing. At the foot of the hill, in Lower Herodium, was another palace – the Large Palace – as well as staff quarters, gardens, a spacious pool, a bathhouse, and guest quarters. On the slope was a small theater, with a special room on top for entertainin guests.

From the very outset, Herod had intended that Herodium would be his memorial. Thus it was here, at the only site that bears his name, that he erected his mausoleum. After its construction, vast quantities of earth and stone were poured on the slope around it, creating the artificial mountain familiar to us today.