The Antonia Fortress - The Modern Site

Today in Jerusalem�s old city the street that begins at St. Stephen�s Gate passes directly above the traditional site of the Antonia Fortress. There is a Convent and a Church resting upon the north half of the site.

There is still remaining at the site a large area of the central courtyard of the fortress (165 sq. feet). The original pavements of stones are still in place (about 1 foot thick). Their channels made the rainwater to flow into cisterns as they do today. It is interesting that the soldiers� scratching from various games into the pavement stones is still visible.

Titus and the Roman legions had completely destroyed the fortress. Later the Temple area and the Antonia Fortress area were the location of two fora in the Emperor Hadrian�s forum (Aelia Capitolina), which was built over the ruins of Jerusalem 100 years after its destruction. Many of the remains on the site of the Antonia Fortress are traced to Hadrian�s forum. The exact location is not conclusive and according to experts some of the remains of columns, capitals, etc. in the area of Antonia come from Herod�s time and some from the time of Hadrian (117-138 A.D.).


The Fortress of Antonia was partly surrounded by a deep ravine 165 feet wide. It functioned as headquarters for the Roman soldiers, a palace and a barracks. Herod constructed a secret passage from the fortress to the Temple and Josephus described that this is where Aristobulus was killed.

The Fortress of Antonia was built on a rock hill, which was much higher than the Temple area (75 feet), on the northwest side. The castle�s 4 walls were interesting:
The western wall was built upon the edge of the cliff overlooking the Tyropoeon Valley.
The north wall was directly across the hill Bezetha and there was a deep mote between them. The rock hid the Temple from view on this side according to Josephus.
The southern wall one could see over the entire Temple area.
The eastern wall overlooked the Pool of Bethesda and the Kidron Valley.

Josephus is the authoritative source for the description of the Antonia Fortress and he wrote about its interior. It is described as a small city, a palace for a king and a barracks for many soldiers. There were apartments, cloisters, baths and large courtyards. There were also stairs that led down from the Fortress to the porticoes of the Temple court at the extreme north side. It is also written that there was a deep passageway underground, which went from the fortress to the Court of Israel, mainly for uprisings and emergencies.

When Titus initiated his extreme assault into the Temple area it was from the Antonia Fortress.

The Northwest Corner of the Temple (see picture below).

These photos are from an archaeological reproduction of first century Jerusalem, located in Jerusalem.


The Fortress of Antonia was built in 35 B.C. and named in honor of Herod�s friend and Roman Triumvir Marcus Antonius also known as Mark Antony. It was actually Mark Anthony who had requested that the Senate make Herod King of Judea as an eastern boundary to the Roman Empire. At some point the Romans took over the Antonia Fortress and placed a garrison there.

Titus Vespasian attacked the city of Jerusalem from the north side in 70 A.D. and overcame it. The legions of Rome slaughtered over a million Jews and 95,000 Jewish captives were taken away as prisoners.

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