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Masada (a romanisation of the Hebrew מצדה, Metzada, from מצודה, metzuda, "fortress") is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or large mesa, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada became famous for its attributed mythic significance in the First Jewish-Roman War (also known as the Great Jewish Revolt) when a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to a mass suicide of the site's Jewish Sicarii fugitives when defeat became imminent. Today, Masada is a very popular tourist destination.
Geography:The cliffs on the east edge of Masada are about 1,300 feet high and the cliffs on the west are about 300 feet high; the natural approaches to the cliff top are very difficult. The top of the plateau is flat and rhomboid-shaped, about 1,800 by 900 feet. There was a casemate wall around the top of the plateau totaling 4,300 feet long and 12 foot thick with many towers, and the fortress included storehouses, barracks, an armory, the palace, and cisterns that were refilled by rainwater. Three narrow, winding paths led from below to fortified gates.