Presently a well known tourist attraction and a site for a variety of cultural festivals, Hisham’s Palace once served as a winter residence for one of the Umayyad Caliphs. Originally, it was believed to have been the home of Caliph Hisham bin Abdel el-Mailik (724-743); but closer archaeological studies determined that the palace was built between the years 743 and 744 by his nephew, Walid II. Regardless of this discovery, the site kept its traditional title and is still named after Hisham.

In 749, the still unfinished palace was severely damaged by an earthquake and then never rebuilt. The imposing ruins of this two-story building can be found about two kilometers north of the center of modern Jericho.

The gate to the archaeological park is located in front of the palace’s entrance, conveniently orienting the visitor to imagine the actual arrangement of the structure’s rooms. Among the ruins lie beautifully decorated columns that once supported the entire building and smaller pieces of stone with carefully carved floral and faunal ornamentation.

In the middle of the courtyard, visitors will observe a reconstructed figure of a six-pointed star. This symbol, which has since come to represent the Jericho Municipality, was actually once located over the entrance to Hisham’s Palace.

The complex also housed two mosques: one was public and open to everyone, and the second was private and used only by the caliph.  Visitors today can explore the remains of these mosques.

Finally, a large thermal bath is located at the northern end of the palace complex.  The baths were once fed by the Ein Dyuk and Ein Nueima springs that ran from the foot of the Mount of Temptation. This is probably the most spectacular area of the building, featuring a perfectly preserved mosaic floor consisting of colorful geometrical designs. Unfortunately, this main section of flooring is currently covered with sand that is intended to protect it from damage until the conclusion of future reconstruction work. However, the famous “tree of life” mosaic depicting lions chasing gazelles under a fruit tree, probably the highlight of a visit to the site, is still visible to the tourist’s curious eyes.

Along the Abraham Path in the:

JERICHO REGION


BLOG POSTS:

Sites in the Jericho Region:

Jericho City

The oldest city but without any of the urban pressures which one finds elsewhere. To all senses, Jericho is an oasis.

St. George’s Monastery

Hanging on the cliffs of Jericho’s most famous wadi route is an ancient monastery open to all.

Mar Saba Monastery

Hidden in an uninhabitable valley, Mar Saba desert monastery has provided refuge and solitary isolation to thousands of ascetic monks who dedicate their lives to prayer, their lives and routines largely unchanged for over 1500 years.

Mount of Temptation

Trek up a steep path or take a ride on a cable car to reach the clifftop Monastery of Temptation. There, treat yourself to a breathtaking panoramic view of Jericho, the Jordan Valley, and the bluish waters of the Dead Sea.

Nebi Musa

The desert sanctuary of Nebi Musa is said to be the last resting place for the Prophet Moses. Its white domed roof has been witness to centuries of pilgrimage.

Hyrcania

Hike through the alternating hills and valleys of the remote wilderness to reach the ruins of the strategically situated and mysterious fortress of Hyrcania, experiencing the solitude and quietness of the surrounding desert on your way.