Photo by Alberto Peral / Israeli Ministry of Tourism
Masada National Park
On a rocky plateau overlooking the Dead Sea lies the 2,000-year-old cliff-top fortress of Masada. Next to Jerusalem, it is the most popular destination for tourists visiting Israel. In addition to its sheer natural beauty, Masada is also the setting of one of the most powerful and tragic stories in Jewish history. During the First Roman-Jewish War in 73 or 74 C.E., 960 Jewish zealots—men, women, and children—committed suicide on top of the mountain rather than submit to capture by the Romans. Among the ruins are the Northern Palace, an ancient synagogue, and a Roman-style bathhouse with mosaic floors. The ascent to Masada can be done by cable car or by walking up the Snake Path, a moderate climb which should take around an hour.