Masada National Park

New - Museum at Masada National Park
Masada, the ancient fortress built by King Herod the Great atop a lofty natural plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. In adding Masada to its prestigious World Heritage List, UNESCO cited several aspects of Masada’s universal value: the site preserves a grand first-century Roman villa, the remains of the most complete Roman siege system in the world, and tells the story of the tragic events leading to the last chapter of the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans - the last stand of the rebels who became a symbol of the struggle fight for freedom from oppression.
 
 
Herod’s Masada
Herod the Great is renowned as the builder of Masada. The plateau’s natural defensive attributes -vertical cliffs some 400 meters above the Dead Sea - were not enough for the builder-king, and he fortified the 400 x
600-meter plateau further, with a casemate wall and towers. But he also saw to the site’s creature comforts, building large and small palaces, a bathhouse, storerooms for food and drink and many other amenities.
The Northern Palace is Masada’s most impressive structure, constructed against the northern cliff-face as if hanging over the abyss. It is built on three rock terraces, each containing grand rooms and supported by gigantic retaining walls to expand their size. The four bedrooms on the top level had a semicircular balcony that revealed magnificent views of the surroundings, especially En Gedi to the north and the Dead Sea and the Mountains of Moab to the east. A staircase led to the middle level - a large, round hall surrounded by a colonnade that extended almost to the cliff-edge. On the lowest terrace was another large, colonnaded hall adorned with spectacular wall paintings, and a private bathhouse for the palace's residents. Herod also built a large bathhouse atop the plateau for the other inhabitants of Masada.
On the top of the mountain Herod built 29 storerooms, each one 27 meters long. Excavations there turned up hundreds of clay pots that could hold huge amounts of food.
Herod also hewed 12 gigantic cisterns into the mountainside to collect flood water; they had a capacity of some 40,000 cubic meters, enough to supply water for all the needs of the inhabitants, from drinking water to a swimming pool, bathhouses and agriculture. Thus in a rare combination of natural conditions and human initiative, Masada became an impregnable fortress - almost.
Masada of the rebels
Despite the extensive evidence of Masada's grandeur, it seems that the most moving finds are the lowly objects left by the Jewish rebels, which make it possible to reconstruct the end of the Great Revolt.
After the rebels took over Masada, they turned the palaces into their command posts and used them as public buildings. A building near the northern wall, which in Herod's day had been a stable, was turned into a synagogue. Used while the Temple still stood, it is one of the earliest synagogues in the world. The rebels also built two ritual immersion baths, whose forms were in keeping with the requirements of Jewish law.
The rebels lived mainly in rooms in the casemate walls, as attested by stoves, niches for food storage and other finds from daily life unearthed in them. Articles of clothing, baskets, household implements and other items were found in piles of ash, apparently burned intentionally by their owners so as not to fall into the hands of the enemy.
More than 5,000 coins were found at Masada, mostly minted by the rebels. Especially moving are the silver coins bearing the words “Shekel of Israel” and “Jerusalem the Holy,” with letters indicating each of the five years of the rebellion. Portions of scrolls were uncovered, along with more than 700 ostraca (sherds bearing inscriptions).
Hundreds of ballista balls fired at the fortress by the Romans and found atop the plateau attest to the heated battle between the rebels and the forces of their imperial enemy. Large rolling stones that the rebels may have used as ammunition, and skeletons, apparently of warriors who committed suicide, were found in various locations.
Remains of the Roman siege on Masada are the most complete examples of such a siege in the world. The Roman camps, siege wall and siege ramp are clearly visible from the top of the plateau. The siege wall that surrounded the base of Masada is two kilometers long and two meters thick. The extent of the Roman siege-works could be considered surprising in light of the fact that they were meant to counter the resistance of 960 men, women and children. As such the remains demonstrate the determination of the rebels to resist the might of the conqueror.
Conservation at Masada
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has invested great resources in conservation at Masada, assisted by world-renowned experts. The work includes reconstruction of collapsed walls and reconstruction and restoration of buildings - carried out with authentic materials. The use of such materials is particularly important when it comes to frescoes, mosaics and other artistic elements.
 
 Length of tour: 3 hours
 
 Best season: year-round
 
 Don't miss: The Yigal Yadin Masada Museum
 Other facilities and attractions: audio-guide, souvenir shop; museum; overnight camping for groups (west side), guesthouse (east side), restaurant (for groups by reservation: 08-652-0999; 050-680-0003 - Udi). 
 
 Hours: April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March 8 A.M- 4 P.M.
Fridays and holiday eves, site closes one hour earlier than above.
Cable-car hours: Sat.-Thurs.: 8 A.M.-4 P.M.; Friday and holiday eves 8 A.M.-2 P.M.; Yom Kippur eve 8 A.M.-noon.
Last entry one hour before above closing hour 
 
 Phone: 08-658-4207/8
Reservation center for sound and light show: 08-995-9333
  Fax / Email: 08-658-4464
 
 Entrance fee: Masada National Park - entrance fee:
Single: Adult NIS 29, child: NIS 15.
Group (over 30 people): Adult: NIS 23, child: NIS 14.
Israeli senior citizen: NIS 15.
East entrance fee- Entrance + cable car two ways:
Single: Adult: NIS 76, child: NIS 44.
Group (over 30 people): Adult: NIS 71, child: NIS 40 .
Masada National Park - Entrance + cable car one way:
Single: Adult NIS 57, child NIS 29.
Group (over 30 people): Adult: 52 NIS, child: 29 NIS.
 
Snake Path (from 5:30 am)
Single Adult: NIS 29, child: 15 NIS.
Group (over 30 people): Adult: NIS 23, child: NIS 14.
Israeli senior citizen: NIS 15.
 
Cable car one direction:
Single: Adult: NIS 27, child: NIS 14. (Subscription and with a personal card)
cable car two-way:
Single: Adult NIS 45, child NIS 27. (Subscription and with a personal card)
 
Note: Overnight camping fees include the entrance to the national park (not include cable car)
 
 Entrance to dogs: No
 
 Accessibility: parking, entrance pavilion, cable-car and visit to the plateau. Three-dimensional models on site assist the visually impaired.