Exploring the Other Side of the Dead Sea–Masada

Masada is the single-most visited archaeological site in Israel. It’s a massive fortress built on top of a rugged rocky crag towering over the Dead Sea. Jonathan the Maccabee first built a fortress here in 150 BC and it was later enlarged by Herod the Great. Masada is best known for its role in the Jewish War (66-70 AD) when it was an outpost of Jewish resistance against the Romans.

Beginning the Ascent

Most visitors here make the pilgrimage to watch the sunrise. We couldn’t book a hotel near enough to make this possible, so we summited in the mid-morning sun, which was fine because it was a great day for it–not too hot. (There’s only one hotel/hostel inside the National Park. If you can’t book a room here, the closest option is about thirty minutes away. Warning: stay away from the Oasis Hotel!). There are three routes to the top of Masada: a cable car (similar to Palm Sprigs’ tram), the Snake Path and the Roman Path. We wanted to hike/walk and took the Snake Path, which was a relatively easy hike that switch-backs up the mountainside along a well maintained trail. It took us a leisurely hour with plenty of water and photo breaks to make it to the top (although I imagine that if you’re hiking in the summer, it has to be much more difficult).

Once you arrive to the top, you are immediately rewarded with stunning 360 degree views of the Dead Sea, the surrounding valley and the remains of the fortress and Herod’s fabulous palace clinging to the edge of the cliff.

The lower terrace of Herod's Northern Palace
In the lower terrace of the Northern Palace

Once you descend, the visitor center is a great place to grab lunch (with an accompanying glass of wine) and to shop–they have a great selection of Dead Sea products and foodstuffs, i.e. honey, wine, spices, teas…(Sorry Nicole, I didn’t buy you anything, nor did I buy myself anything. I was too tired from the hike to shop).

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27 thoughts on “Exploring the Other Side of the Dead Sea–Masada

  1. Fabulous, Jen! Thanks for sharing these with us as this is probably the closest we will ever get. We are living vicariously through your adventures. Safe, happy travels and lots of love~ Bud and Jacque

    1. You lost that title weeks ago! I’m sending your skull garland (that I completed this morning, thanks to the blizzard) and the ugly doll next week. I wonder if I’ll get anything in return???

  2. Oh, I miss hiking! I’ll have to hike stateside though. LOL. Lassen National Park in July. Can’t wait. Views look great over there!

  3. Jen the pictures are great as usual and what they wouldn’t do for a tree once in a while.. Not much shade going on.. We just finished our walk and all we got to see were those beautiful sail boats, not much history but lots of beautiflu colors.. Keep up the history lessons, I am almost ready for the test. Dad

  4. Jen, the pictures are wonderful. What a dry, arid place it is. As I read the Bible, I am beginning to see these places through different eyes. I am going to look up Macabees and Masada. Thanks for the history lesson throught pictures.
    Love, Mom

  5. Thabks for visiting my blog!!

    This post is interesting
    I would love to visit…my husband and i have been trying to…since we found out our church went almost 3 yrs ago

    We have also just had an study through revelation where we learned about masada!
    Crazy story!!!!

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