A short account of the Herodian Quarter, given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide

The Herodian Quarter is the modern name given to an area of archaeological excavations in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter in the Old City. This was an area inhabited by wealthy people in 1st century CE Jewish Jerusalem. The 1970’s digs revealed villas of colossal dimensions, very rich with artifacts. Touring them can give us some insights about Jerusalem and its inhabitants during the end of the period of the Second Temple.

Some background

During the 1st century BCE and 1st century CE, the Jewish nation, both in the country and around the Roman Empire, grew rapidly in number. Jews from all over came to visit the Temple in Jerusalem, and even more arrived after the entire compound was rebuilt by King Herod. The hundreds of thousands of Jews and non-Jews coming every year was a major factor in the boosting of the city’s economy. The ones who profited the most were the Kohanim – the priests who served in the Temple. The places that we are going to see in the Herodian Quarter were once owned by some of these priests.

What can we see?

In the Herodian Quarter, you see the walls, mosaic floors, cisterns and ritual baths (mikvahs) of three villas. One of them is 600 sqm (6,000 sqf.) and is known as the Palatial Mansion. The column capitals and home utensils are evidence of the immense wealth of these people. You can also see very clearly the signs of destruction and burning resulting from the war with the Romans in the summer of 70 CE.

Close to this site, there are ruins of another priestly home, named the Burnt House, which used to be the home of the Katros family. Here, you can watch a multimedia presentation, showing the family during the revolt. You will feel as if you are involved with the life and the end of the family, of Jerusalem and of the Temple.

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