Masada Fortress

Start of the trip 7.00

Mossad fortress 11.00

Lunch, buffet 14.00

Swimming in the Dead Sea

Departure from Masada Fortress to Eilat 17.30

Masada is an ancient fortress that is located near the Israeli city of Arad, Southern District, at the Ein Gedi-Ein Bokek highway off the southern coast of the Dead Sea.

Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the top of one of the rocks of the Judean Desert, rising 450 meters above the Dead Sea, in 25 BC. e. King Herod the Great, a descendant of the Idumeans who accepted Judaism, built a shelter for himself and his family, significantly fortifying and completing the fortress of the Hasmonean period of 37-31 years built on this site. BC.

In Masada, there were many food and weapons reserves, an elaborate system of water supply, baths, modeled on Roman ones. The fortress was also used to store royal gold

On all sides Masada is surrounded by steep cliffs. Only from the side of the sea to the top leads a narrow, so-called snake path. The top of the rock is crowned with an almost flat trapezoidal plateau, whose dimensions are about 600 × 300 m.

The plateau is surrounded by powerful fortress walls with a total length of 1400 m and a thickness of about 4 m in which 37 towers are arranged.

On the plateau, palaces, a synagogue, weapons warehouses, pits for collection and storage of rainwater and other auxiliary buildings were built.

In the fortress, the palace of King Herod, a synagogue, fragments of mosaics, water tanks cut in the rocks, cold and hot baths and much more are now preserved.

One of the most striking findings is the synagogue. It was believed that the Jews did not need the synagogues, as long as they had the Temple. Masada was reconstructed during the Second Temple, but the synagogue in it was nevertheless created.

In addition, the synagogue was also found in the ruins of the fortress Gamla. This proved that in ancient Jews the existence of synagogues did not depend on the existence of the Temple.

In 66 AD. e. Masada was taken by rebellious Zealots, the Roman garrison was carved.

In 67 AD in Masada settled, the representatives of the radical party that led the uprising against the Romans, poured into a prolonged Jewish war.

In 70 AD, after the capture of Jerusalem by the Roman legions, Masada was the last stronghold of the rebels. Defenders of the fortress barely numbered about 1,000 people, including women and children, but they held Masada for 3 more years.

About 9 thousand slaves carried roads and wore earth to build a siege shaft around the fortress and platforms for propellers and ram.

When the Romans succeeded in setting fire to the internal defensive wall built up by the sycary, consisting of wooden beams, the fate of Masada was solved.

“Not wanting to surrender to the Romans, the Sicarians decided to commit suicide. The lot was cast, ten executors of the last will were chosen who had stabbed all the defenders of the fortress, women and children, and then one of them, chosen by lot, killed the others and committed suicide. The story of the massacre in the fortress was told by a woman who hid in a water reservoir and therefore survived. ” Joseph Flavius, “The Jewish War”

For a while, the history of Masada’s defense was considered a legend, but a comparison of Jewish and Roman historical chronicles, including Josephus’s book The Jewish War, and archaeological finds in the fortress, among which are stone tablets with names used as lots by ten executors of the last will, convince otherwise.

There is also a version that when the Romans broke through the fortress wall, defenders of the fortress set fire to all the buildings.

However, human remains and / or graves have never been found on the territory of the fortress (it is worth recalling that we are talking about about a thousand people, which is quite a lot for such a relatively small area), so no version has yet found sufficient evidence.

The ruins of the fortress were first discovered in 1862. Thorough excavations were carried out in 1963-65.

Since 1971, the Masada operates a funicular connecting the foot of the cliff with its summit. You can also walk to the gates of the fortress along the “serpentine path”, winding along the eastern side of the cliff.

Fortress Masada and Dead Sea tour from Eilat
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