MASADA NATIONAL PARK
Israel is an exciting place and we are preparing for the post covid 19 period, the Masada national park in the most visited site in Israel, take a private tour to Masada with a driver, and dive into the history!
We prepared an introduction to Masada national park and perhaps a few extra locations to visit while traveling the Judean Desert with our drivers in Israel.
Welcome to the last stronghold of the Great Rebellion, the place where the stones tell the myth of heroism and courage of choosing death rather than slavery. A story dating back to the Hasmonean Citadel continued in a magnificent fortress and the palace of King Herod, and even today, in the nightly voyages of youth movements qualify for Masada with Sunrise. For its part, it is a site of World importance, which is located exactly where the Dead Sea is best photographed. Mandatory visit at least once in a lifetime
The National Park (including the vision) is open to visitors, under restrictions and guidelines of the Ministry of Health. To visit the site, it is necessary to book a place in advance.
For its part was the royal fortress of Herod and the last post of fanatics during the Great Revolt in the Romans in the years 66-73. It was declared by UNESCO (UN education and culture organization) as one of the UN international heritage sites. The site is filled with archaeological remains of Herod, which include: palaces, bathhouses, warehouses, water storage plants, and also from the time of Fanatics: the buildings used to protect the premises and the Roman blockade system preserved uniquely (some say the best in the world).
Besides Antiquities, Masada has, Of course, a magnificent view and a fascinating historical story: for its part, it has been a masterpiece and a symbol of Jewish standing in front of the foreign conqueror and the belief that everything must be done for freedom. In the days before the establishment of the state, it was a very popular pilgrimage site for groups of youth movements and Palmach as a symbol of independence that was and was destroyed. Even today climbing individuals, families, and many groups of young people and soldiers to Masada.
Over the past decades, debates have begun to develop around the myth of the mass suicide of zealots in Masada on the eve of Passover in 73 C. E., the day before the Romans ascended its part. Whatever your position-an ascent to Masada by cable car, the road to the embankment, or for the serpent, an ancient tour, an impression of the majesty and splendor of the place, watching movies and the amazing audiovisual display, are an interesting and enriching experience and a must for everyone.
HOW TO GET TO MASADA NATIONAL PARK WITH A DRIVER?
From Jerusalem: Our driver will drive you towards Jerusalem on Route 1 to the entrance to the city, following the signs towards the Dead Sea. After the intersection of the French Hill, they continue straight along the road about 30 km along the road descending to the Dead Sea (on the way you will see the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, Ma'ale Adumim himself, The Good Samaritan Khan, Mitzpe Jericho, and the OG River. At the junction of the Beit Ha'arava, turn south and drive to Masada (on the way you will see the kibbutzim Almog, kyu, Mitzpe Shalem, and Ein Gedi).
From Arad to Masada National Park, to the main entrance (East which includes an increase in the cable car): heading south towards beer Sheva to the junction of blades. Head east to Highway 31 and drive a few tens of kilometers until you reach the glowing intersection of the Dead Sea coast. At the intersection turn north and drive about 20 kilometers to mark the turning towards Masada. From this entrance, you can go by cable car (for a fee) or for the serpent, which is intended only for reaching targets, since its ascent is steep and takes about 45 minutes.
From Arad to the audiovisual vision site and the battery (western side): the descent to the ultrasonic light vision site and the western entrance to Masada (on it through the battery) is from Arad. A special road descends from Arad to this entrance. Convenient signage at the entrance to the city of Arad from Kuin to this road. Please note, This entrance can only be accessed via the battery-in a walk of about 20 minutes.
Please note: the travel difference is between the western entrance (embankment) and the eastern entrance (cable car and Snake Path) is about an hour. Therefore, plan how you would like to come up. If you are using a navigation device on the way to the site, make sure that it directs you to the correct entry.
DETAILS OF MASADA NATIONAL PARK
For its part, it is a rock block in the form of a rhombus, raised about half a kilometer above its surroundings (about a hundred meters above sea level) and 600 meters long and 300 meters wide. It is possible to climb to it from the side of the East (by cable car or for the serpent - to come from Jerusalem or Arad) or to the west (on the embankment poured by the Romans - to come from Arad). For its part, many are mentioned in the writings of Joseph Ben-Matityahu (Josephus Flavius), but also in other books. Ben-Matityahu says that it was first made by Jonathan the high priest identified with the Hasmonean king Alexander Yanai. King Herod fled here with his entire family and 800 people from King Matisyahu Antigones the Hasmonean. Over time, Herod left in Masada all members of his family and fled to Rome. The Hasmonean king is narrow on its part and almost all its inhabitants died in thirst, at the last moment it rained and filled the reservoirs at the top of the mountain. When Herod returned from Rome, he rose with his army on the fortress and removed the siege from it. After that, Herod turned the place into a palace that included all possible delights of a palace: a bathhouse, observation terraces, large warehouses, and a serving staff, but was also fortified so that it could be escaped.
After Herod's death (4 BC), a Roman garrison stayed in Masada until 66. This year, the beginning of the Great Revolt, the fanatics led by Menachem Ben Yehuda Galilei took the place. After Menachem was murdered by Jewish opponents in Jerusalem, Elazar Ben-Yair (son of Menachem's brother) fled to Masada and was the commander of a group of zealots (called Sikriim) who had been barricaded until 73. In the year 72 after all of Judah fell to the feet of the Romans, the Tenth Legion under the command of Flavius Silva began to besiege its part to subdue the zealots entrenched in it. The blockade lasted for long months (in which Silva had to take care of food and water for his people). Finally, the Romans came up with a battery that filled the ravine west of Masada, and on it, they put up siege machines that scored the wall (the battery has been preserved to this day and can be raised to Masada from the west side).
The night before the breakthrough of the wall, Lazarus Ben-Yair persuaded all the zealots to kill themselves and their families and die as free humans provided that Paul was not in the cruel Roman captivity. Josephus describes the dramatic speech carried by Elazar Ben-Yair (as he claimed, he heard two women and three children who hid in one of the water pits and turned themselves into the hands of the Romans the next morning when they came upon the mountain). 960 women and women committed suicide (in what has been fenced to this day as the greatest mass suicide in history) not before they burned all the buildings and food storerooms so that they would not fall into the hands of the Romans. It is said that when the Romans went up to the mountain the day after they could not despise the losers, as they were used to from other battles, they hated their strength and faith in their right to live and die as free men. After that, the Roman garrison remained and the importance of Masada as a fortress decreased.
During the Byzantine period, the mountain was home to a reclusive monastic community and a church was also built on the site whose remains can be seen to this day. Interest in Masada was renewed in the new time when the two American researchers A. Robinson and A. Smith observed it in 1839 from quasi-Gadi and linked it with the stories of Josephus Flavius. From this point on, as the archaeological excavations deepened, the importance of Masada increased. In 1968, upon completion of the excavations led by Yigal Yadin, it was opened and declared a national park.
CENTRAL SITES IN MASADA NATIONAL PARK
1. The wall
Herod surrounded her part with a closing wall (a wall that has two walls and between them a space that can be exploited as a warehouse/residence) 1,400 meters long. On the wall, there were 7 Gates. The only place that was not surrounded by a wall is the northern Palace.
2. Northern Palace
One of the most impressive remains of the period of Herod is the northern Palace. This palace is one of the most luxurious palaces built by Herod and is described in the most detailed manner in Josephus ' book. The palace is the most important part of Masada. There is a wall separating the private part of the palace from the public parts. Herod built the palace precisely in this place for several reasons: the sun does not burn on this side, this is the most important area in Masada because of the water pits beneath it, and also, anyone standing in this place can feel cool northern winds.
Since the topographic structure of Masada in this area is narrow, it was difficult to build a wide Palace. Herod's engineers found the solution in the form of a palace on three floors, in three rock steps, with a height difference of thirty meters. The top at the top of the summit, the second about 18 meters below it, and the third about 12 meters below the previous one. The upper rank was the entrance to the palace. There were guardrooms, bedrooms, a central hall, and a semi-circular View Terrace. From the balcony, you can view the lower ranks of the palace, as well as north towards the streams: Tsals, guard, and friend. It is from this point that we see today the Roman road that connected the springs of the Tsalim River to the camps of the Romans.
From the extension next to the bathhouse, you can go down to the middle step of the palace. Passing through a cistern and a tripod step in the rock, which served as a hope for purity and reaches the surface, where around Hall was most likely built, surrounded by columns. Only their foundations were preserved. From the south, under a rock wall, stairwells and other rooms are located. From here go down to the lower rank, where there was a rectangular hall surrounded by columns and decorated with frescoes. East of the hall was discovered a bathhouse in a characteristic Roman style. Outside, a place for dipping your feet, and in the inner room, there are two pools: cold water and hot water.
3. Western Palace
This is the largest building on Masada and it was also built by Herod. Its area is about 4,000 square meters and includes remains of residential premises, a reception hall, bathrooms (mosaic-paved), toilets, residence of servants, workshops, and warehouses.
4. The warehouses
Some 15 warehouses were in Masada and some were beautifully restored (some were left for future generations in its condition before restoration). In these warehouses, wine, oil, and flour were preserved.
It is located on the eastern side of the mountain and is built following all the rules of Halachic law (tested by an Admor from Mahe Shearim).
One of the ancient synagogues in the whole world (another found in Gamla) - it was used by the zealots after the temple was destroyed (in 70 AD).
THE ROMAN SIEGE
Alongside the natural means of protection, provided by nature to Masada (especially steep slopes and rock walls that form a shaped wall), another wall of about five meters high was also built during Herod, which surrounded the entire top of the mountain (about 1,400 meters long). The wall had two parallel walls: the outer one whose thickness was 1.40 meters, and the inner one meter. A space of about four meters was between the outer wall and the inner wall, and it was covered along its entire length (about nine hectares) with a built-up roof. Perpendicular walls divided this space into quasi-rooms; every forty meters an observation tower was built on the wall, and guards toured along with it. Four gates were built opposite the four paths that went up to the mountain: the gate of the east to the serpent's path, the gate of the west to the West, the gate of the north to the waterway, and the gate of the caves to the South.
The Romans were therefore forced to work especially hard to break through the wall and subdue the zealots in 73 C. E. No less than eight army camps the Romans set up around for its part. The siege commander was Roman Commissioner Silva Flavius, with 10,000 people at his disposal. Around the whole mountain was built, as already mentioned, the wall, which was then called dyke, and its length was about five kilometers. In the last stages of the siege, the Romans built a very large earthen embankment on the west side of the wall. The construction of the embankment was carried out by layers of trees brought from a nearby stream of RAM and land laid on top of each other.
During the construction of the embankment, the zealots did everything they could to interfere with the Romans in their construction: they shot arrows at them, and threw sling stones at them, and rounded, heavy Daredevils above the wall. The Roman narrow on the wall was therefore forced to work with one hand and to defend himself with the other hand. However, the construction of the embankment was finally completed, and the Romans brought the special war tools for ramming the wall and setting it in its western section. However, the besieged Fanatics did not succumb and managed to build in the process
ADDITIONAL SITES TO VISIT
the Dead Sea beaches - let your driver in Israel take your to a private beach or the Dead Sea hotels area, decide which option sues you best, whether you prefer to get a full spa treatment or just to float a few hours in the Dead Sea.
Ein Gedi National Park - take a hike in one of the best routes of the desert, the Ein Gedi national park can offer an easy hiking area for families and slow walkers and also short swimming in the waterfalls of the desert while watching the animals around.
TIP: THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SUNRISE
There's nothing like seeing the sunrise over Masada national park from the side! This is an exciting and beautiful sight but also requires a particularly early awakening... Sunrise will be even more beautiful if you sleep well the night before and nearby.
A trip to Masada national park with a driver will be the perfect option to visit the Judean desert without driving on the Israeli roads especially during the night if you intend to climb up Masada national park at sunrise, we offer to book In advance in case you are a family or a group, therefore, we will provide a minivan with a driver in Israel to maximize your comfort. In case you decide to stay in the dead sea hotels overnight you can just book our transfers back and forth.