The first pilgrims are making their way into the city of Jerusalem, so our chance to easily get around the city is nearly over. There are even rumours that Jesus Himself has left Galilee and is on His way here! Today we will take another risk, and peek over the battlements into Herod’s Palace.
It stands on the top of Mount Zion, and on the right you can see the Upper City, where we were yesterday, sloping down towards the temple mount. The palace was yet another building constructed by Herod the Great on a huge platform, similar (but much smaller), to the temple itself. It has been used by the Roman governors ever since his death, and Pilatus will live here when he arrives for the feast of Passover.
Herod the Great was completely paranoid that someone was going to assassinate him, and to prove it he built three more huge towers next door to escape into if the palace was attacked (two or these are visible at the top of this photo). He even named them after friends and family!
By the way, don’t get confused between Herod the Great, who was alive when Jesus was born but who died just over 30 years ago, and the current Herod, who is one of his sons, and who rules over the region of Galilee in the north (where Rabbi Jesus now lives).
Before we duck back behind the wall, have a look at the big open square just outside the main gate of the palace which is surrounded on three sides by colonnades. The locals call this place Gabbatha, or ‘stone pavement’, and it is the place where the governor has his judgement seat; where he passes sentence on criminals. Roman ‘justice’ is brutal, usually ending in crucifixion, another thing the Romans have introduced us to . Typical of the Romans to put their judgement seat on the highest spot in the city, just to remind us who’s boss.