10 facts about Masada
Overlooking the Dead Sea from the edge of the Judean Desert, Masada is one of the most impressive man-made structures in the world. The ancient fortification was once a place of refuge, but today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Israel.
If you are planning a visit to Masada, knowing these 10 interesting facts about the old citadel will make your trip better!
Masada is partly below sea level
The mesa-like plateau is surrounded by cliffs that fall for almost 400 m on one of its sides. Still, being on top of it only puts you 58 meters above sea level. It means that most of its base would be underwater in a flooding scenario.
Masada has a 2,000-year-old history
The fortress of Masada was built by Herod the Great between 37 BCE and 31 BCE. It served as a citadel of retreat from Roman attacks and other invasions. Its high vantage point enabled the sight of incoming troops from a long distance.
Masada takes pride in its military heritage
Masada is the place where today’s IDF recruits take a pledge of eternal protection for the state of Israel. This practice follows in the historical footsteps of previous Jewish armies that defended the nation from this fortification.
Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Masada became a protected area of UNESCO in 2001. Due to its rich history, the place has an essential significance for human history and for the contributions that the Israeli nation brought to global culture.
Masada is easily accessible for tourists
The Israeli tourism authorities enable tourists to visit Masada even in the hot months of summer. In that period, trekking on foot to the top of the mesa is dangerous, but visitors can use cable car service on location.
Masada is the site of an ancient mass suicide
In the year 66 A.D, the Romans were attacking the Jewish communities in the region after the fall of Jerusalem. A group of 960 rebels, known as the Sicarii were hiding in the fortification. When it became clear that they cannot withstand a Roman assault, they all committed suicide to avoid slavery, torture and being murdered by their enemies.
Masada was rediscovered in the 19th century
For most of its history, Masada remained uninhabited. The passing of time had covered it with sand and debris until a group of scholars and archaeologists rediscovered it in 1828.
Masada contains messages from the past
Over the years, archaeologists have uncovered the bones and belongings of those who lived there two millennia ago. Through ancient inscriptions, they managed to reconstruct a day in the life of a Masada inhabitant from before the Roman invasion.
Masada has an “echo balcony”
At the edge of the desert, on top of the mesa, there is an echo balcony from where visitors can yell and hear the desert “respond” to them. It is a fun attraction for the tourists visiting the ancient fortification.
Masada hosts concerts
Due to its spectacular positioning, Masada is also a popular location for concerts and events. In 2011, the famous Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli performed there in front of a live audience.
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