Masada National Park-מצדה was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Masada, in Hebrew means “fortress”. Masada is an ancient fortification built atop a horst plateau in the Judean Desert of southern Israel, overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions. This site holds symbolic importance as a symbol of determination and heroism.
Masada was extensively excavated between 1963 and 1965 by an expedition led by Israeli archaeologist and former military Chief-of-Staff Yigael Yadin. In 2007, the Masada Museum in Memory of Yigael Yadin opened at the site displaying archeological findings. Many of the artifacts were unearthed by Yadin and his archaeological team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem during the 1960s. Yadin’s team could not detect any architectural remains of the Hasmonean period. The only findings firmly dated to this period being the numerous coins of Alexander Jannaeus. Many of the ancient buildings of the Herodian period have been restored from their remains, as have the wall paintings of Herod’s two main palaces, and the Roman-style bathhouses that he built. The synagogue, storehouses, and houses of the Jewish rebels have also been identified and restored.
AIRVŪZ Air Drone by Nelly Volkovich
Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE.
Siege of Masada
Almost all historical information about Masada comes from the first-century Jewish Roman historian Josephus. In the year 72, the Romans besieged Masada and succeeded in reaching the steep fortress after constructing a huge earthen ramp on its western side. The famous siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire at the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of 960 people. According to Prof. Kenneth Atkinson, there is no archaeological evidence that Masada’s defenders committed mass suicide.
How to get to the top?
Masada is extremely high, and can be ascended on foot by the winding “snake path” or by a cable car that runs from the tourist center at the foot of Masada to the top.
Most people access Masada from the eastern side near Road 90, which runs down the Israeli coast of the Dead Sea. The less used option is Road 3199 from Arad to the western side. The road ends at a parking lot, from which there is a comparatively easy 15-20 minute ascent to the top.