June 23, 2018
About 100 km from Jerusalem, perched on cliffs 1300 feet above the Dead Sea sit the ruins of the ancient fortress of Masada. Built by King Herod ca. 30 BCE, it was excavated in the 1960s and inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
King Herod’s palace occupied three levels, shown in this model.
Tourist Israel tells the story of the fort: built by King Herod in 30 BCE, it was conquered by Jewish zealots at the beginning of the great revolt against Rome in the year 68 CE, becoming their last stronghold. Four years later the Romans fought back. Siege was not possible because of the stores of food and water in the fortress, so they constructed a huge earthen ramp on its western side. In the year 73, the 960 Jewish zealots living at the top of Masada chose to commit suicide rather than to fall into the hands of the Romans alive. This picture shows the remains of the Roman camp at the base of the ramp.
The ruins show remains of Roman baths with mosaic floors, and foundations, arches, and columns.
The sweeping views of the Dead Sea and surrounding mountains show a desolate but beautiful landscape. It’s hard to imagine living here, let alone building this amazing fortress.
More pictures here.