Our group leader related a story about the last time he was at Masada. They were up at the western gate looking at the siege ramp. Pres. Stephens saw movement out in the desert and soon realized that it was IDF soldiers...running. He said it took them maybe 20 minutes to get from here:
Up the siege ramp trail to the top of Masada here:
And they were in full battle gear with packs and guns and all. That is some serious training.
Also, it probably took them less time to run all that way, uphill, in the desert, than it will take you to slog through this massive amount of photos.
Good luck :-)
According to Josephus Flavius, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BC. Herod was hated by his Jewish subjects and he built this fortress (as well as others) as a refuge. It included a casement wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns, barracks, palaces and an armory.
The area was gorgeous. Very very "desert" but gorgeous. I actually really love the austere, desolate beauty of deserts.
Herod really knew how to pick the perfect view.
This is looking off towards the Dead Sea. The plateau was much larger than I had previously imagined.
Ancient dovecote. Faster than an email any day :-)
Entrance to the largest cistern.
Once again, no one else wanted to hike to the bottom and back up. So they shoved me off with their cameras and made me do all the climbing.
Hard to imagine being able to fill this cistern with water eh? Herod devised a brilliant plan to gather rain water and especially flash flood water from the surrounding wadis. When it rains in Jerusalem, it floods here. All water runs to the Dead Sea, as it is the lowest spot...anywhere, all they had to do was collect it.
Remains of the casement wall. It was very thick and had rooms for the soldiers built right into it. I would've been nervous living at the edge of that drop-off.
Remains of the synagogue.
Herod (and the Romans) took their bathing very seriously.
You will notice black lines on some of the walls. Anything below the black line is original, anything above is restored.
The mosaics were amazing. So ornate.
This mosaic is the remains of a Byzantine monastery.
Roman siege ramp from 74 AD.
Remains of the Roman legionary camps at the base of Masada.
Food storage area. They would've had massive amounts of food stored there.
They found a 2,000 year old seed in a storage room that germinated. It grew into a date palm. It is the oldest known germination. I know. Wow.
This is a model of Herod's palace. It was crazy elaborate. This man didn't skimp.
Looking down at the second tier of Herod's palace
An occupant of the current palace...
Mosaic on the floor of a large bath house.
Painted plaster. All that is left of what would've covered all of the walls.
The floor was ornately tiled. You an see a few of the original files at the top.
Steam room. Ingenious really. The "floor" was built on top of the posts. Hot water would run under the false floor and the steam would rise up through terracotta pipes on the walls.
Pretty ingenious. Although it was SOOO hot up there, i can't imagine wanting to get anywhere near a steam room. Just saying.
This is the cable car we had to take to get up to the top. It was terrifying.
You can see more Roman camp ruins off to the left though.
They packed us in like sardines. Seriously. I was very nervous.
But we lived.