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Masada

One and a quarter miles west of the Dead Sea, rising 1443 feet above sea level, is Masada. With its wide flat summit, it was the perfect place for military defenses. The first fortifications built on Masada were constructed by the Hasmoneans in 42 CE.

Twenty years later, Herod added a wall, water storage cisterns, and a beautiful palace. Masada is famous for being one of the last Jewish strongholds after the Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple and Jerusalem in 70 CE. Numerous archeological finds confirm the story of the “Zealots” and their bravery as described by Josephus. Signs of Jewish religious life on the mountain include a mikveh (ritual pool) and a synagogue built so the congregation faced Jerusalem.