Masada is a unique site; a stark rocky cliff, standing alone in the heart of the Judean Desert wilderness. It rises to a height of 1500 feet above the nearby Dead Sea. On Masada’s plateau summit visitors can see the remains of a fortress Palace, built in 31BC by King Herod the Great. This stronghold, overlooks the Dead Sea and served as Herod’s personal hiding place.
About 70 years later in 66AD, Masada became a refuge for a group of Jewish zealots. The zealots were fleeing the Romans, after a failed revolt in Jerusalem and Judea. The Jews of Masada became the last outpost of resistance to the Romans. A tragic story of faith, bravery and heroism, ensued as the Jews were held siege by Roman troops for 3-4 years. In the final hours before the Romans finally managed to breech the hill top, the Jews of Masada decided to commit mass suicide, rather than be taken as Roman slaves and prisoners.
Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its unique significance. Visitors can reach the archaeological remains on Masada via the ‘snake trail’, a 1.5 hour path up the slope of Masada, or by a convenient cable car. On the top of Masada’s plateau summit, are the well preserved remains of Herod’s palace; a Roman bathhouse; store rooms; dwellings, cisterns and dovecotes. Several frescos and floor mosaics have also survived, and you can see a synagogue created by the Jewish zealots.
The remote and harsh environment, as well as the challenging location on the hill top plateau, meant that the remains were left untouched, for almost two millennia and have survived in excellent condition. Not only can visitors learn about the ancient history of Masada, but you can enjoy the expansive views across the desert and Dead Sea. Tours to Masada can be combined with a visit to other attractions in the region, like the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi.
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