Masada Things to Do

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    Masada museum
    by mindcrime
  • Things to Do
    by mindcrime
  • Things to Do
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Most Recent Things to Do in Masada

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    Masada archeological site

    by mindcrime Written Aug 8, 2014

    For me (as a visitor) Masada is impressive mainly because of its location and not because of any sentimental connection I guess jews have. It's a breathtaking rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea with steep cliffs that used to house the ancient fortification. Don’t forget to take a hat, sunscreen and water bottle with you as the sun was a killer up there and we had to walk in open air for too long with no shade around. So have your camera read not only for the ruins around but also for the amazing view of the Dead Sea.

    Herod the Great built a huge palace for him and fortified the place between 37 and 31 BC but after the first Jewish-Roman War (66-73AD) the Siege of Masada by romans (73AD) led to the mass suicide of 960 people (rebels and their families). These tragic events became the symbol of the struggle fight for freedom against oppression.

    Unfortunately in most ruins the signs were very simple so a guidebook will add much more to the experience as you walk around or buy one at the Visitors Center. It wasn’t just the palace but also a bathhouse, storage buildings, gigantic cisterns to collect flood water etc I spent about an hour up there and loved it but then I started to feel excausted because of the heat.

    The park is open one hour before sunrise but if you want to use the cable car you can do it after 8.00am.

    Entrance fee for the Eastern (Dead Sea) side is 76nis (including cable-car two ways) or 58nis (including one way cable car)
    if you take the snake path the entrance fee is 29nis
    the cable car one way costs 29nis, roundtrip 47nis, we took this one because the park entrance fee was included in our pass

    Masada Masada scale model view over Dead Sea Columbarium Tower in Masada walking in Masada
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    Masada museum, video and Light Show

    by mindcrime Written Aug 8, 2014

    Unfortunately the Masada Museum (where the Visitors Center is) was closed and couldn’t check inside and see the archaeological findings.

    But before we take the cable car we watched a nice 10’ long video about Masada which sets you nicely into the history of the place and its tragic final events when the Jewish defenders decided to commit suicide(first killed their wives and children, and then each other).

    I’ve read that every Tuesday and Thursday (from march to October) a Sound and Light show takes place at 21.00 (September/October at 20.00), we were there in the morning so we didn't see it.

    Masada museum
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    Michele (jadedmuse) visits Masada

    by Martin_S. Updated Aug 6, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We took Michele (jadedmuse) and David to visit what may be the most famous site in Israel after the Western Wall (wailing wall) in Jerusalem.
    The first picture shows Michele (very pregnant) taking one of many photos on Masada.
    The second picture shows us on the stairs that descend into the largest of the many cisterns used to store water to sustain this fortress in the waterless desert.
    The last picture is David taking a drink from a slightly smaller cistern provided for cool water while walking around in this extremely HOT area. Remember we are at the edge of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on the surface of the earth at 400 meters below sea level...it is hot.

    David drinking from Descending the big cistern steps, Masada, Israel
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    Valley floor fortifications

    by leffe3 Written Jul 26, 2011

    What makes the achievements of Masada even more extraordinary is that the horst was completely surrounded by walls on the valley floor.

    Northing remains of the walls themselves, but what becomes very apparent from the cable car and view points at the top are the foundations of the supporting tours. Foundations of some seven towers/encampments can be found around the base with evidence of a further camp on Mount Eleazar, across the Wadi to the south.

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    Small Palaces

    by leffe3 Written Jul 26, 2011

    At the southern end of the site, Herod built a number of small guest palaces (some never completed) built in the traditional style of rooms off a central courtyard. They likely housed middle-ranking visitors and administrators of the site and possibly senior military staff.

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    Western Palace

    by leffe3 Written Jul 26, 2011

    The Western Palace is Masada's largest structure. It contained living quarters, guard rooms, reception rooms, bathing rooms, storage, kitchens as well as the public immersion pool.

    The tower att he northern end of the complex provides views down onto the bathing complex and reception room where mosaics have been uncovered.

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    Columbarium Towers

    by leffe3 Written Jul 26, 2011

    The twin towers, slightly to the north of the ramp were dual purpose - as look out towers across the Wadi and encroaching hills and dovecots, where pigeons were raised as messengers as well as for food. And ever practical, their droppings were used as fertiliser.

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    The Ramp

    by leffe3 Written Jul 25, 2011

    The natural landform that enabled the Romans to build the ramp to reclaim Masada from the Sacarii now forms the west entrance (via Arad and the Negev Desert).

    At 90 metres, this 'side' of the horst is the lowest from the desert floor, with the landform decreasing its safety distance. Using Jewish slaves to avoid attack from above, the Romans inched up the side of the cliff and marched into Masada, only to find the inhabitants dead.

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    Synagogue

    by leffe3 Written Jul 25, 2011

    After the northern 'end', Masada becomes much more spread out with ruins dotted around the site. The western perimeter, overlooking the Roman ramp that provided access for the troops to recapture the fortress is the 'normal' route, via one of the oldest synagogues in Israel and spectacular views.

    The synagogue itself is small and over-renovated with new concrete benches, but it is still a Holy site with a small temperature-controlled geniza (storage room for sacred scrolls) attached.

    There is debate as to whether it was originally built as a synagogue or a stable which was converted by the Sicarii.

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    The Look Out Tower

    by leffe3 Written Jul 25, 2011

    Built at the edge of the Store Room Complex (and one of the first buildings you see when you first enter the Masada site) the Look Out Tower is the tallest remaining building.

    It would have provided guards extra height to not only look out beyond the walls to the valley and nearby mountainous terrain, but also to watch over the complex itself. Less evident today with its wide open spaces, the area to the south is likely to have been teeming with people living in less permanent structures.

    Today it provides a lookout across the complex and the area that was devastated by an earthquake in the 4th century, believed to be responsible for most of the destruction of Masada.

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    The Northern Palace

    by leffe3 Written Jul 25, 2011

    Herod's private residence, the Northern Palace is, not surprisingly, the single most impressive structure (although it is a series of structures spread over three terraces 30 metres apart).

    The top level, closest to the rest of the fortress, was Herod's own private quarters at the most isolated and protected spot (as well as enjoying the best of the breezes during the summer months).

    The structure was not large by palace standards - four rooms off a central roofed hall - but they would have been lavishly decorated. Uncovered mosaics suggest Herod brought artists from Italy itself.

    Stairs led to the level below directly from the private quarters, but these were destroyed in an earthquake. so retracing steps is required to go to the levels below the private quarters.

    At the 2nd level are the circular foundations of the banqueting hall and, below on the third level, the lowest point of the fortress of Masada, a further terrace used for receptions.

    Needless to say, all levels have extraordinary views of the valley and the Dead Sea, although views in Roman times would have seen considerably more water than you do today.

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    The Large Bath House

    by leffe3 Written Jul 25, 2011

    Visit any Roman ruins in the world and you'll find evidence of the bathhouse, integral as they were to Roman lifestyle. And Masada is no exception.

    This would have been used by senior officials and high ranking military, situated as it is next to the entrance to Herod's Northern Palace. Its four rooms - apoditerium (dressing room), tepidarium (tepid room), fridgedarium (cold room) and caldarium (hot room) - are remarkably well preserved.

    Original frescoes have been uncovered, floors preserved and the hypocaust floor of the caldarium highlights the Roman system of heating rooms - the creation of a double layered floor with hot air passing between the two levels, a system continued to be used today.

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    The storerooms

    by leffe3 Updated Jul 25, 2011

    Head right past the small quarry (from where a great deal of the stone used in the building of Masada was taken) and head for the most 'developed' of the walls - a series of what is now known as the storerooms complex - some 29 long rooms (and corridors) built to house armaments, food, liquids that could supply an army under siege for months (even years).

    They were built beyond the first walls of the palace but outside the royal residence, which was separated by another wall.

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    Masada and the general layout

    by leffe3 Written Jul 25, 2011

    Once through the gatehouse, the extent of Masada is laid out before you. It's a surprisingly large flat plateau virtually completely exposed to the sun (little in terms of shade - be warned!). Choice is to go left or right.

    The more extensive, condensed ruins and that of Herod's Palace is to the right whilst to the left are singular structures dotted round the site - likely to be due to more temporary structures were built outside the palace within a fortress walls. Namely where the 'plebs' lived.

    Most official tours and the official guide book start by going right, working in an anti-clockwise direction. So, my Masada page will follow this route. :)

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    Snake Path

    by leffe3 Updated Jul 24, 2011

    The other option to accessing Masada from the east (and the only access for those who decide to see the sunrise from the peak) is Snake Path - a pretty strenuous hike up the side of the cliff to the top.

    In the heat of the day it can be a gruelling climb (lots of water is required) as it snakes its way up the cliff but, with steps and handrails at the more sheer points, safe. It takes about an hour walking up (less if you're fit and determined), 20 minutes or so to descend.

    Walking in both directions will cost you NIS27.

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