Our next stop in the Jerusalem area was at the ruins of Herodium, the structure King Herod built and lived in when he was in Jerusalem. This was also the location where he chose to be buried. After converting it into a massive grave/memorial, it was no longer used as a palace.
A re-creation of the original Herodium structure.
A view of the surrounding area.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Herodium was seeing all the tunnels underground and throughout the structure that had been used for transporting water and then later by outlaws for hide-out spots.
Since the Herodium is a fairly recent archeological project, further excavation is continually ongoing.
We ate lunch in Bethlehem.
Then, we viewed a variety of cave-type structures where Jesus could have been born.
A nativity scene in one cave.
Notice the black ceiling? This was due to the fires the shepherds built in the caves for keeping warm.
Beautiful flowers in Bethlehem.
Besides caves, the main tourist attraction in Bethlehem is the Church of the Nativity, built to commemorate the location where Emperor Constantine's mother of long ago declared Jesus had been born. The actual spot dedicated in the church to the supposed place of Jesus' birth was not nearly as authentic looking as the caves we had already seen. I thought it was much more interesting to see the room (pictured above) where Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate.
After a big day of touring, a few of us ventured back to the Old City to do some shopping at the souvenir markets. I will show more pictures of the markets from the daytime pictures I took on another day. This is one of a shop where the owner claimed to know one of the professors at Dallas Theological Seminary where Nathan went. It was quite strange to see a DTS banner hanging in a shop in Jerusalem!
After shopping, we stopped for super yummy pizza! This is about as close to pepperoni as one will find in Israel! ;)