Masada is an ancient fortification situated on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built Masada between 37 and 31 BC as his winter retreat and also as a refuge for himself in case his Jewish subjects rebelled or the Romans attacked. The fortress has palaces, storehouses, an armoury, barracks, and a large network of cisterns to collect rainwater.
After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, about 70 years after Herod’s death, the rebels fled Jerusalem to Masada. About 960 men, women, and children holed up in the fortress for 3 years while 8,000 Romans laid siege from below. Using Jewish prisoners-of-war, the Romans built a gigantic ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. When people at Masada knew that the Roman Legion would succeed in breaching the walls, they decided that they would prefer death to slavery and torture. So they burnt down the fortress and drew lots to kill each other with the last man committing suicide.
Masada took on the symbol of pride, heroism and sacrifice for Israel. All newly enlisted soldiers in Israel were taken to Masada to swear their oath of allegiance shouting “Masada will not fall again!” This UNESCO World Heritage Site can now be visited by cable car or by hiking up.
Cable car ride up to the fortress of Masada.
Or hike up via the Snake Path.
View from atop Masada.
The desert land below and the dead sea in the distance.
Some of the mosaic remaining at Masada.
Roman siege camp and part of the Roman circumvallation wall.