OUTSIDE OF JERUSALEM: Massada – UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the Dead Sea

When you glance at it from the highway, Massada looks much like any other mountain in the Judean desert. Yet it was on these heights, and in the middle of this dreary landscape, that King Herod the Great erected a luxurious desert fortress. And it was here, as well, that a group of besieged and desperate Jews fought the Romans with inhuman valor, then placed their belongings in a corner, set each pile afire, and committed a well-documented mass suicide…

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, Massada is one of Israel’s most exciting national parks. Besides the stirring site itself, with its palaces, synagogue, and Byzantine church, it features a stunning Visitors’ Center which hugs the slopes and is colored like the sand, inaugurated at the beginning of this millennium. In addition, visitors enjoy an interactive museum that takes you back to the time of the Roman conquest, a thrilling audio-visual production and special wheelchair-accessible cable cars that lift you to the top of the mountain.

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