On a wonderful recent visit to the Holy Land, I kept a day free to visit the amazing and important UNESCO world heritage site of Masada. Driving through the Judean Desert I was excited to finally see this place which has become one of the greatest symbols of Israel, due to its being the place which was the last Jewish stronghold against the Roman invasion.
Arriving at the site which is located on a mountain top that overlooks the Dead Sea in the east and a magnificent desert panorama in the west it was evident that the best way to reach it was by cable car. The wonderfully thrilling story of the site affirms the courage of those who defended Masada against the conquering Romans.
The fortress itself was built by King Herod in 30 BCE but was captured by Jewish Zealots in 68 BCE They bravely defended it for four years when Masada was besieged by the Romans who constructed a huge ramp on the western side, only to find that all the 960 defenders had chosen to commit suicide rather than allow themselves to become captives of the Romans.
Even though the remains have been reconstructed beautifully I found King Herod’s northern palace to be the most remarkable structure, built on rock terraces. Nearby I viewed the large Roman style both house with a beautiful mosaic floor and walls with interesting murals.
There are many other fascinating buildings at the site including a Jewish ritual bath (Mikveh), the ancient synagogue and many impressive artifacts all being part of the thrilling story of Masada.
My visit to Masada was a wonderful day during my time in Israel and I believe should be undertaken by visitors to complete their Holy Land experience.