One of Israel’s top tourist attractions,  a spectacular archeological site with a fascinating history, Masada is not to be missed. It’s been many many years since I visited Masada last, and although things are pretty much the same, my perspective and ability to appreciate it have changed allot. Taking more time to go around Israel and explore during my infrequent short visits to Israel has shown me just how special this region of the world is. Overlooking the dying dead sea to the east, based on a high mountain in the middle of nowhere desert, you witness the glory and insanity of Herod’s dream of a desert castle. Everything about this place screams mental insanity. No person in his right mind would go into all this trouble to build something this grand in the middle of nowhere, but Herod did his thing, bringing in experts from Rome to solve some of the ancient world’s most difficult architectural challenges.

Not only must you go up to Masada, but it’s also vital that you have a guide that knows the small details and can portray just how inconceivable Masada is. Naturally, Masada is most famous for its over-nationalist if not absolutely absurd narrative in which the leaders of a Jewish resistance against the grand army of Rome decided to murder every man, woman and child in Masada in order to avoid Roman captivity. As far as regional historical insanity go, it probably doesn’t get much better than Masada.

 

We’ll kick it off with the insane desert view…

 

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 

Some people climb up the mountain, something I was forced to do way too many times during my early years …

 

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel 

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 

But most people just take the cable car up…

 

 The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 

As I suggest you do too. If you really must walk, I’d recommend the way down rather than up.

 

On the top, you have panoramic breath-taking views in every direction…

 

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 

As well as the Masada royal residence, mostly restored ruins…

 

 The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel 

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel 

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 

Masada is, ofcourse, a UNESCO world heritage site, and so their website has a good intro:

Masada is a rugged natural fortress, of majestic beauty, in the Judaean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army, in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire, by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, (reigned 37 – 4 B.C.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day.

Masada is a dramatically located site of great natural beauty overlooking the Dead Sea, a rugged natural fortress on which the Judaean king Herod the Great constructed a sumptuous palace complex in classical Roman style. After Judaea became a province of the Roman Empire, it was the refuge of the last survivors of the Jewish revolt, who chose death rather than slavery when the Roman besiegers broke through their defences. As such it has an emblematic value for the Jewish people.

It is also an archaeological site of great significance. The remains of Herod’s palaces are outstanding and very intact examples of this type of architecture, whilst the untouched siegeworks are the finest and most complete anywhere in the Roman world.

The Masada complex, built by Herod the Great, King of Judaea, who reigned between 37 BCE and 4 CE, and particularly the "hanging" palace with its three terraces, is an outstanding example of opulent architectural design, elaborately engineered and constructed in extreme conditions. The palace on the northern face of the dramatic mountain site consists of an exceptional group of classical Roman Imperial buildings.  The water system was particularly sophisticated, collecting run-off water from a single day’s rain to sustain life for a thousand people over a period of two to three years. This achievement allowed the transformation of a barren, isolated, arid hilltop into a lavish royal retreat.

When this natural defensive site, further strengthened by massive walls, was occupied by survivors of the Jewish Revolt against Roman rule, it was successfully besieged by a massive Roman army. The military camps, siegeworks and an attack ramp that encircle the site, and a network of legionary fortresses of quadrilateral plan, are the most complete anywhere in the Roman world. Masada is a poignant symbol of the continuing human struggle between oppression and liberty.

 

 

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel

 

Location:

 

 

No point in getting into any of it, this is a place you have to visit for yourself. Even if you’re in Israel for a short visit, try and make time to come here, and you can combine this with a visit to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.



Tags: castle; dead sea; desert; fort; herod; Israel; jewish; jews; masada; negev; Romans; unesco; world heritage site;


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