Masada Feb 2011

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.

IMG_0508Cable car ride up to the fortress of Masada.

IMG_0509Or hike up via the Snake Path.

IMG_0512View from atop Masada.

IMG_0515The desert land below and the dead sea in the distance.

IMG_0526Some of the mosaic remaining at Masada.


IMG_0528Roman siege camp and part of the Roman circumvallation wall.


Cappadocia July 2013

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia of Turkey.  Ancient volcanic eruptions covered this region with thick ash which solidified into a soft rock.

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