The rock of Masada which is towering almost 1000ft above the Dead Sea shore is one of the most impressive archeological sites in Israel. It is known for its flat top and the remarkable role it played in the Jewish history. (The siege of Masada by Roman troops ended in a mass suicide of 960 Jewish rebels and their families hiding there)
Visitors to the site can wander through the ruins of what used to be Roman palace and its bathhouse. The view from the hill top is admirable. Watching the vast of the desert and the red mountains around it. Visitors should time their visit to watch the sun goes down over the dessert. In recent years there are also rock concerts and operas in Masada which are timed to end in or just before sunrise. Some people say it is once in a lifetime experience.
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view of the desert en route to the Dead Sea
This experience was awesome beyond words. We arrived at Tel Aviv where we rented a car and for two weeks drove to the major cities in Israel, such as Jerusalem, Nazareth, Galilee, and Arad, among others. The beautiful city of Arad in the heart of the Judean desert is a modern-day metropolis, where we stayed at the Villa 1000, a clean and modern family-owned small hotel where colorful flowering plants grow abundantly and even though one is surrounded by the Negev you'd never know it. This place is beautiful beyond my expectations, very close to the Dead Sea and Beer Sheba, and also to Jerusalem. Our intention was to stay with a Nomadic family for the full experience but being two women traveling by ourselves we changed our minds and stayed at the very tourist friendly Villa 1000, where the proprietor came out to the courtyard during the evening to practice his English with us. I recommend it very highly.
For me there's only one way to experience the ancient beauty of the Negev: mountain bike in this dramatic land where brilliant hues streak sandstone cliffs, wide vistas of Jordan's Moab Mountains are bathed in a luminescent glow, and the occasional valley is a verdant surprise for me, but not for the Ibex who frequent these oases for the refreshing spring-fed water. The landscape, often simply labeled as barren, is networked by wadis or stream beds and paths that are often unmarked, making getting lost a real possibility without a knowledgeable guide. (I used Adam Sela's company.) But the emptiness is a mere illusion, with archeological findings remaining as windows to the old Spice Route that once connected Arabia with the Mediterranean. The ruins of an ancient motel, referred to as a caravansary, where traders would bed down for the night, and the stone foundation of a fort dating to the 10th century BC are just two of the many discoveries dotting the Negev. Every stone tells a tale in Israel, a country that was once covered by the sea. No wonder tiny shells of sea creatures flecks my trail as I pedal along the Wadi of the Tree, a path bearing a lone acacia where I rest under its broad canopy.