Day 18 - Dead Sea & Masada

Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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Flag of Israel  , Jerusalem District,
Thursday, October 18, 2012

We had an easy start today with our tour starting at 0900. We only had two stops, but a lot of travelling.

Masada was our first stop. Built on a plateaued mountain on the southern edge of the Dead Sea, it was built as a palace fortress by Herod the Great - around 30 - 20 BCish.

Herod was a paranoid ruler, with just cause. Allied to the Romans and King of the Heshmite people (Jordanians), he conquered and ruled Judea during his life.
The people of Judea did not like him much.

So Masada was built as a retreat in case of issues arising for him.
The fort is just amazing. Built on the plateau surrounded by shear rock faces, he built a personal paradise, sparing nothing. His paranoia had him create vast storehouses, water reservoirs, and even build a false facade to his private palace. Where it seams Masada ended, it actually carried on to a very elaborate multilevelled palace.

We took a cable car to the top. Much easier than the walk in the scorching sun.

The area is vast and is more like a personal town. With 4 palaces and an incredible bath complex to impress his roman visitors.

When Herod died, due to it high upkeep cost and strange position, it was abandoned. Jews moved into the town to make it their own.
Famously when the Jewish uprising happened around 67AD. The Romans, initially retreating from Judea, came through and flatted Jerusalem and retook control of the area. Masada was the last hold of the Jewish people, and they took the defensive for 7 Months. With plenty of water and food stored from Herod's reign, the Romans built a massive ramp up the hill to move a siege tower into place to ram open the doors to the city.

On entering they found everyone dead. They had taken their own lives rather than fall into Roman hands. An amazing story of resistance and sacrifice.
A very impressive sight and a must when you come to Isreal.

We had lunch before heading to the Dead Sea to test out the mud and waters. Getting in the water is incredible. You feel like a cork, or like you sitting on a lilo. It's very relaxing and great fun.
We got out to smear ourselves with the famous mud. This was great fun and we felt like children again. We had a last dip in the sea, before heading to the hot mineral pools provided. The one pool had hot water from he Dead Sea and the other a fresh cold pool. It was invigorating going from one pool to the other, and got your blood pumping.
The stop was a definite highlight on our trip, and we are now feeling very relaxed.

Our tour guide pointed out the caves the Dead Sea scrolls were found in on the side of the surrounding mountains on our drive back to Jerusalem.
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