Masada National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site is considered one of the most amazing historical and archaeological sites in the world and is a must see for anyone visiting Israel and the Dead Sea area.
Massada Israel (comes from the word Metzudah meaning fortress in Hebrew) is the site of the fortress built by Herod the great King of Judea, but is best known as a symbol of Jewish resistance, courage and the tragic events of the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Roman siege.
Amazing Facts About Masada
- Massada provides a very meaningful and unforgettable setting for families celebrating the coming of age of their sons and daughters at the Bar/Bat Mizvah ceremony.
- Mount Massada (also spelled Mazada) was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
- The fortress is one of the most popular sites for Dead Sea travelers.
- Mazada is one hour’s drive from Jerusalem on the shores of the Dead Sea.
- The newly built visitors center attracts 1.2 million travelers every year.
- The fortress is naturally fortified and surrounded by deep gorges.
- The mountain was first excavated in the 1960’s by an international team of archaeologists.
My Trip to Masada National Park
I recently visited the Dead Sea area and Mazada with my family (April 2011). My last visit was 25 years earlier as a visiting teenager on summer camp from Britain so I was very excited to revisit the site after so many years.
The drive along the Dead Sea shore towards the looming fortress in the distance is incredible. The mountains change colors constantly throughout the day.
You can reach the summit by cable car, or if you’re up to it, you can walk up the ‘snake path’ (high degree of difficulty), which is on the east side overlooking the dead sea. Arriving from the desert city of Arad, the ‘Roman Ramp’ offers a lower degree of difficulty. For advanced hikers, the ‘Runner’s Path’ is a very challenging route with an even more spectacular view.
The climb up the snake path is not easy BUT when you reach the top the feeling is amazing and exhilarating.
The Snake Path
I dragged my whole family with me up the snake path, much to my kids disappointment – they campaigned for the cable car. I walked with my 10 year old daughter, stopping to rest at practically every twist and turn on the path. We still reached the summit in a little over an hour.
We were especially lucky that day as the sky was overcast and cloudy. As we explored the excavations, there was a sudden burst of rain lasting at least half an hour.
Reaching the Summit of Masada National Park
This was a real treat as the fortress summit only gets rain fall a few times during the year. Even more amazing, within half an hour of the rains we could see the floods arriving from the Judean Hills flowing to the Dead Sea. My kids rejoiced as the snake path was closed on account of the rain, and they got to take the cable car down the mountain.
But remember that it is usually very hot and sunny all year round, so if you are planning to hike, I recommend to start off very early in the morning – at dawn if you can. The view of the sunrise from the summit is an unforgettable experience. It is so incredible that some concerts are actually held at sunrise.
Enjoy this sunrise concert of a famous Israeli artist Avraham Tal.
Tip! Be sure to carry with you at least 2 litres or 1/2 gallon of water per person, sunscreen, a hat, and sneakers or hiking shoes when visiting Masada.
- The Masada National Park offers an incredible journey back in time thousands of years and an insight into the way of life as it was then.
- The history of Massada spans from before the Christian era around 37 BC telling the amazing story of this unique mountain fortress.
- Dead Sea and Masada tours can be arranged to visit Massada from Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.
- The amazing Youth Hostel at the base of Masada offers affordable family packages.
This incredible landmark should definitely be at the top of your list for places to visit. Allow yourself a couple of hours at least to walk around. Enjoy the amazing views of the Dead Sea and the Judean Hills; they are definitely worth the trip.