Masada National Park

Masada National Park

Masada, One of the most important tourist destinations in Israel  is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the Southern District of Israel, on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is best known for the violence that occurred there in the first century CE. In the final accords of the First Jewish–Roman War, the Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels.

According to Josephus, a 1st-century Jewish Roman historian, Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. In 66 CE, at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War against the Roman Empire, a group of Jewish extremists, called the Sicarii, overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, additional members of the Sicarii and numerous Jewish families fled Jerusalem and settled on the mountaintop, using it as a base for harassing the Romans.
In 72, the Roman governor of Iudaea Lucius Flavius Silva headed the Roman 10 legion  and laid siege to Masada. The Roman legion surrounded Masada and built a circumvallation wall and then a siege embankment against the western face of the plateau, moving thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth to do so.  According to Josephus, when Roman troops entered Masada they discovered that its 960 inhabitants had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and committed a mass suicide.
The site of Masada was identified in 1842 and extensively excavated between 1963 and 1965 by an expedition led by Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin. While a hike up the Snake Path on the eastern side of the mountain  is considered part of the “Masada experience,” a cable car operates at the site for those who wish to avoid the physical exertion
The Roman ramp still stands on the western side and can be climbed on foot. Many of the ancient buildings 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. The meter-high circumvallation wall that the Romans built around Masada can be seen, together with eleven barracks for the Roman soldiers just outside this wall. Water cisterns two-thirds of the way up the cliff drain the nearby wadis by an elaborate system of channels, which explains how the rebels managed to have enough water for such a long time.
In the area in front of the northern palace, eleven small ostraca were recovered, each bearing a single name. One reads “ben Yair” and could be short for Eleazar ben Ya’ir, the commander of the fortress. It has been suggested that the other ten names are those of the men chosen by lot to kill the others and then themselves, as recounted by Josephus.
Masada was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. An audio-visual light show is presented nightly on the western side of the mountain.
In 2007, a new museum opened at the site in which archeological findings of Masada are displayed in a theatrical setting

Masada National Park

Opening Hours:
April to September: 08:00-17:00 October – March 8:00 – 16:00 On Fridays and holiday eves 8-15 Entrance to the reserve closes one hour before closing time listed above.

Price: East Gate entrance + two-way cable car:72 NIS per adult,41NIS per child.
Location: About 18 km south of Ein Gedi.
Phone: 972-8-6520999

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