Masada National Park
Masada National Park Reviews
A reminder of man's heroism amidst the powerful natural backdrop Nov 12, 2016
Make no mistake, but one of Israel's top tourist destinations is all but located atop an isolated rock plateau surrounded by valleys and the Dead Sea. Save for the purgatory tourist shops and mammoth car park, the place and its serenity is all yours for the taking.
Masada Fortress was considered a series of fortifications built by Herod The Great; he chose the site for its vantage position and how difficult it would be for other enemies to attack them. It was self contained - contained everything from a monastery, casemates, down to a chapel and of course, living quarters for the soldiers living here.
Wikipedia has an exhaustive article about the fortress through the years, but our tour guide narrated the legend where Herod and his soldiers knew they were eventually losing to the Romans who wished to take his men captive, and his women for slaves and wives. So rather than lose honour, he had a soldier kill all the people living in the camps (except a few who escaped). So after months of camping at the base and slowly making their way up the fortress, hoping to catch Herod and his men ALIVE (which would've been a huge achievement for them), they ascended to find everyone (well near everyone) dead!
Back to reality - the fortress has a cable car that goes up to the fortress. There's a serpentine path that the tour guide talks you through, including a "Roman bath" section. There was a lot of explanation given here - nothing that can't be found on a Wiki site.
In addition to the fortress itself, there is a tourist centre here with the mandatory tourist shop. My advice to those visiting would be - please do not fall for the "25% off" kind of deals for Dead Sea based cosmetics. They are far far cheaper on Amazon (yes, same brand). There's a food court with an amazing variety of food - everything from the fast food buffet to individual burger and wraps stalls.
All in all, a very enjoyable visit, and a reminder to us how powerful Israel was in some of the early historic fights, and that there's more than just the "religious" angle to this country. Must visit!
Part of the Israel travel blog
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Masada National Park Oct 27, 2012
We did Masada as part of a tour and we felt VERY rushed. There is tons to explore here and we could have spent at least 5 or 6 hours here.
Masada is a fortress built by King Herod which he used as defense and as a fortified palace. He was basically a foreign king to the Jews and was thus very wary of all (Jews and Roman). It was also a place of retreat for a group of people during the Roman conquest of Israel. It was finally surrounded and when the Romans entered, they had found that everyone (except a couple of women and children) has committed suicide (fathers killed their families and then themselves).
To get up the hill, you can go one of two routes. There is an air trolley which costs extra and a snake trail you can hike. We took the air trolley (came with the tour) but I wish I could have hiked the trail (it looked fun).
Once we got up, there was tons to explore. This is where we felt really rushed. It was nice having the explanation though but we had to hurry to stay on schedule. The displays are well put together and the scenery off the mountain is gorgeous.
Once you get back down to the Visitor Center, you go through a Gift Shop and through the Restaurant.
Part of the Israel and Jordan - October 2012 travel blog
Part of the list World National Parks
Part of the list UNESCO World Heritage Sites