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Masada is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or large mesa, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada became famous after the First Jewish-Roman War (also known as the Great Jewish Revolt) when a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to a mass suicide of the site's Jewish Sicarii fugitives when defeat became imminent.

Masada is both recognized for its Roman fortifications and as a symbol of Jewish cultural identity.


Wojciech Fedoruk (Poland):
Masada is undisputedly one of the must-see places in Israel, and, in my opinion, the best WHS in that country, after Jerusalem. There are two access points to the fortress – western and eastern. Be careful which one you want to reach, as the distance between them is more than one hour by car. At the eastern one you may choose a cable car or 45-60 min hike, while at the western only hike is available, but the path is much easier and takes up to 20 minutes (it is not difficult and my 3-year-old son was able to climb it by himself).
Masada is a really well-preserved 2000-year fortress. If most of the buildings had roofs, it could almost look like a fully reconstructed place. Even some original mosaics remained to this day. And the sights from the top of the mountain – at Judean desert and Dead Sea - were really marvelous. The bonus – to the joy of my son – was a domesticated ibex, who was not afraid of tourists and stood still posing to photos. Although Masada is a bit distant from other tourist spots in Israel, I highly recommend visiting it, especially when combined with Dead Sea.
Date posted: December 2015
Kenneth B. Jackson (UK):
I have been to Masada 3 or 4 times the first with a tour party, the remainder with me acting as the guide for friends and colleagues and always during the Summer months.

I would always recommend the walk up (take plenty of water) and allow plenty of time to wander. It is imposing, it is much larger than perhaps you would surmise from below, but equalkly there is not much shade. However, take your time and see the different areas between the many tourist groups. I would recommend trying to get there either very early or go up for the last few hours of the day and wait until the number of people have fallen away. And if the people startgetting on your nerves look out at the views which on a claer day are outstanding.
Date posted: September 2010
Xeres Nelro (Canada):
Masada holds a special place in the hearts of the Jewish people. It was there, in the first century A.D. the Jews made their last stand on Masada, in the end deciding to commit suicide rather then be captured. Because of this, Israeli army cadets take an oath of allegiance when the join the army, on Masada, with the word "Masada shall not fall again!". I was lucky enough to see one of these ceremonies during my trip, quite a site, many uniformed soldiers with guns, in the midst of 2000 year old ruins, the Israeli flag flapping in the breeze.
Dawn at Masada is very special, the light coming up over the hills, makes the stones glow with a radiance of their own.
the ruins themselves are fairly standard of the middle east, what makes them impressive is that they are on a massive mesa in the middle of the desert. its hard to see how they could move all the material needed to build the fortress/palace complex. The Highlight of my trip to Masada, was looking over the edge, a viewing all the way down. The second highlight was the bathhouse, very nice mosaics.
interesting fact: if you yell from the top of Masada, you can be heard at the bottom. but if you yell from the bottom, you can't be heard at the top. So during the siege, the Jews would rain down insults on the romans, who where unable to reply.
Date posted: November 2008
Kim Harton (USA):
I too loved Masada on my visit in Nov. 2006. It was one of my favorite places that I visited during my trip to Israel. I would love to go back again. The gift shop was excellent. I bought several items and was wondering if anyone knows if they have a web-site that you can order things from on-line. I bought some beautiful jewelry and would love to purchase more for gifts. My cousin bought me the DVD of the movie, Masada, starring Peter O'Toole. It's a good visual teaching tool.
Date posted: September 2008
Christer Sundberg (Sweden):
Zillions of sightseeing tours can take you from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to Masada and it is actually the most convenient way to visit the site. It’s an interesting piece of Jewish history to be told here, but not the most interesting of World Hertitage sights. Once up on the mountain you realise easily that it was virtually inaccessible for the Romans, who needed more than two years to concur it and when they finally did, all Jewish people had then committed mass suicide.

Make sure that your “tour” also includes a visit the Dead Sea. Wheather you want to roll yourself in healthy mud or just walk along the salty beaches is up to you but don’t miss the opportunity to visit a unique piece of nature. The Dead Sea is located -400 meters below sea level and the water contains over 25% salt. Make sure you have not shaved before you jump into the water…!
Date posted: June 2006

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Site info

Country: Israel
Inscribed: 2001
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (3) (4) (6)
Category: Secular structure, Military / Fortifications

Site history:
2001 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:

In the news:
» A section of the ancient walls of Masada, one of the country's most poignant symbols of survival, is in danger of collapse as a result of a heavy downpour that drenched the desert site three years ago. (09-03-2007).
» Could Masada fall again? (16-05-2006).

Related links:
» Desert Fortress Overlooking the Dead Sea.
» Masada.

Related Forum posts:
Not available

Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).


Cave dwellings .
Baths . Cable cars . Cisterns . Cultural sites connected to Cliffs . Dovecotes . Mosaic art . Tombs .
Table Mountain .
Byzantine Empire and Civilization . Famous suicides . Historical events . Historical Food Remains . Nabatean culture . Sieges and Battles .
Human Activity
Irrigation and drainage . Thanatourist destination .
Religion and Belief
Jewish religion and culture .
Built in the 1st century BC .
Lowest (below sea level) . Purpose Built Visitor Centre . Sound and Light Show .
WHS Hotspots
Israel-Palestine Hotspot .
World Heritage Process
Cultural sites rejected for Natural criteria .

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