One of the unforgettable highlights during a tour to the Holy Land will be Masada, the famous Israeli fortress built by King Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BCE, and later used and fortified by Israeli hold-outs against the Roman Empire in 73 CE.
Masada is an ancient fortification, a top of an isolated large rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, and is today second most visited tourist attraction in Israel after Jerusalem, and a symbol of great national pride. Israeli soldiers take an oath there, “Masada shall not fall again.”
On your Christian tour to Israel, you will ascend Masada via cable car to the top of the rock plateau more then 1,300 feet high, and experience one of the most amazing panoramic views of the Judean Desert, and the Dead Sea with its bright aquamarine color tones. Explore the first century Synagogue, King Herod’s Bathhouse, and ruined storehouse, barracks, armory, cisterns and other excavations atop of Masada.
The rich history of Masada comes mainly from the 1st century Jewish Roman historian Josephus. Masada was first fortified by Alexander Jannnaeus in the first century BCE, later Herod the Great captured Masada and built his palace and additional structures. In 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels, called the Sicarii, pushed back the Roman garrison of Masada. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, additional members of the Sicarii fled Jerusalem and settled on the mountaintop. In 73 CE, the Roman governor of Iudaea Lucius Flavius Silva headed the Roman legion X Fretensis 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, which according to geological investigations confirmed a 375-foot high assault ramp consisting of bedrock from the surroundings. After the ramp was completed Masada likely witnessed a three to four month siege with a final breach of the fortress wall, with a giant battering ramp on April 16. The Roman X Legion and number of other units and Jewish prisoners totaling some 15,000 troops were used to crush the Jewish resistance at Masada. According to Josephus, when the Roman legion entered the fortress, they discovered that its inhabitants had set all the buildings on fire except the food storeroom, in order to show that the resistance was well stocked, but its people and leaders had all committed mass suicide, with only two women and five children who were found alive. Masada was last occupied during the Byzantine period, when a small church was established at the site.
Besides an amazing experience on your Israel tour atop of Masada with it’s natural panoramic views of the Judean Desert, and ruins at the top of the plateau, the tourist facilities below provide you with comfortable shopping, specially for beauty and wellness products derived from the mineral rich Dead Sea.