A place of extraordinary history and an Israeli icon in modern times. The Snake Path in view here scales what is more or less the eastern (Dead Sea) side of Mount Masada. The climb is roughly 400 metres. There is a cable car alternative and on the western side, the climb is roughly 100 meters. This last option is seldom used.
The attraction is a fortress built by King Herod between 37 and 31 BC, on the flat lozenge shaped top, if ever the need should arise to escape the various enemies of the day. It included a casemate wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater, barracks, palaces and an armory. The palace served as a winter palace. Herod and his successor kept the place stocked. Most of these buildings survived, albeit roofless, and makes for an interesting visit.
In my Wednesday post, I will provide some information about what happened here, during the first Jewish-Roman war 73 - 74 AD; also referred to as the Great Revolt by Hebrew speaking people. The war was the result of the Roman occupation of Israel and Judea. The Jews resented the additional taxes and a faction of militants called the Zealots was organised. One of the Zealot extremist groups, was the Sicarii - so named for the sicari dagger they used. They were quite good at killing Roman citizens and people siding with the Romans - e.g. tax collector. Some later Roman prefects raided the Jewish temple for valuables and tried to force Jews to pay homage to Roman gods. Well, the stage was set for a war.
Interesting to note that Matthew, a disciple of Jesus was first a toll gate operator in Caphernaum and was in fact collecting tax for the Romans. Another disciple was Simon the Zealot ...
Wiki provides some good background to the Jewish-Roman wars, if you are interested in reading up.
Oh yes, some of you are bound to ask me. A week before going to Israel, I picked up tendonitis of the heel. Although we walked and climbed more than a 100kms during our visit (two girls had their pedometers with them), I knew I would be courting disaster if I tried this particular ascent - so I took the cable car. Pity, I knew I would look pretty in a "I conquered Masada" T-shirt - but it would have been a false claim.