First, we got off our bus on an expansive flat space. In this hilly country, it's pretty clear that this space is not naturally flat, but it was filled and excavated by Herod's engineers. According to Josephus (a Jewish apostate to the Romans,) this area was filled with grass and an olive grove.
Getting off the bus in the flattened area. Imagine it with trees and grass.
Water from the aquifer flowed into an enormous rectangular pool. At the center of this pool was a small island protruding above the waterline. You could swim out to the island or take a small boat to enjoy a picnic.
Pool with small island in the center.
Around the pool, on three sides stood tall columns holding a shade roof for shade.
Roof-supporting columns surrounding the pool.
To the south, between the slopes of Upper Herodion and the pool, are the recently excavated ruins of a large village-like administrative center. To the east of this stood an artificial elevated platform.
Village ruins. The levated platform is today covered with Bedouin olive groves (platform is top left.) This platform was, in its day, used for processions.
Carved stones and stone bricks, still in ruins.
At the western end, stands a Byzantine church.
A rebuffed attempt to enter the site of Herod's grave, excavations still ongoing.