Masada (Hebrew for "Fortress") are the ancient ruins on a mountaintop in the Judean Desert. Located about 30 miles southeast of Jerusalem and rising above the shores of the Dead Sea, Masada is the most visited of all archeological sites in Israel and one of the most popular climbs. This fortress can be reached in several ways... from the east via the original and steep "snake path," from the west on a path built from the old Roman ramp, offering an easier climb or by cable car.
After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 CE by the conquering Roman army, 1,000 Jewish zealot resistors and their families fled Jerusalem and took over this remote mountaintop. Under their leader, Eleazar ben Jair, they withstood a 2-year siege by the Roman Tenth Legion.
Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Roman Tenth Legion. They established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it. Later they constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress [see left portion of photo] and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up this ramp and breached the wall of the fortress
When the Zealot leader, Elazar ben Yair, saw the end nearing, he gathered his people and together they chose death with honor by their own hands rather than being captured alive and becoming slaves to the Romans.
Today, Masada has become a symbol for freedom and independence. Recruits to the Israel Defense Forces Armored Unit swear the oath of allegiance in an annual ceremony on its summit. Their defiant cry...Masada will never fall again!
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