Pilate’s Palace Courtyard at Caesarea

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Pilate’s Palace Courtyard at Caesarea
Image by Ian W Scott
Diagonal view across the grand colonnaded courtyard (peristyle) at the heart of Herod the Great’s palace at Caesarea Maritima. The columns (of which a few are restored to partial height) originally ran all the way around the rectangular space. Behind the columns, on all four sides, was a high roofed portico (stoa). In the central area, open to the sky, Herod planted the variety of exotic and rare flowers and shrubs that graced any elite private garden. The garden was probably crossed by walking paths and accented with marble sculptures and fountains. After Herod’s death and the failure of his son Archelaus to rule his kingdom, Herod’s palace became the residence of the Roman governors, including Pontius Pilate. The palace continued on from the far end of the courtyard (marked by the modern fence) in tiered levels that reached to the tip of a narrow promontory. Those further rooms were used for more private functions and included a large swimming pool. Herod’s penchant for grand vistas is expressed here just as at his palace at Masada which cascades down the edge of the rocky pinnacle.

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