Masada is important for many reasons, but most of all for being a symbol of determination and heroism which continues to this day.
Considered to be one of the greatest archaeological sites in Israel and, perhaps, across the world, Masada’s dramatic ascent can now be made by cable-car, but the drama and imagery that this site portrays is no less powerful than it ever was.
The fortress of Masada was built in the year 30 BC by King Herod, whose architectural feats have left their mark throughout the country. At the beginning of the great revolt against Rome in the year 68 AD, the site was conquered by a group of Jewish zealots, and Masada became their last stronghold. King Herod the Great lived in constant fear of being overthrown by his subjects, which explains the many fortresses he built for himself in Israel. His paranoia was matched by his extravagant lifestyle. Each fortress included lavish entertainment venues and a luxurious royal palace. Even Masada, built high on a remote mountaintop overlooking the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea, was no exception.
Herod’s complex at Masada included a synagogue, storehouses for provisions, deep cisterns to collect precious rainwater, and an elaborate bathhouse. He even had a swimming pool! At one end of the complex was his private, residential palace that included two terraces for hosting parties and feasts. At the other end was Herod’s immense ceremonial palace where his throne room was located. Archaeologists have carefully restored sections of the complex so that visitors can experience the grandeur and massive scale of Herod’s mountain fortress.
The beautiful embossments and murals that were discovered on the walls of buildings of Masada were restored in order to preserve them for years to come. This is the largest and most complete Roman siege camp that remains today.