Instawalk: Masada, King Herod’s Fortress Palace High Above the Dead Sea

Masada, located towards the southern end of the Dead Sea, was King Herod’s fortified palace complex. it was built on a towering 1,300′ plateau that’s accessible by cable car (₪76 — $21.79 — round trip for adults) or by steep steps (45-50 minutes to climb, say guidebook and an overheard tour guide). it has quite a storied history and it’s amazing to think this was built in such a location (so high, no water, so hot…) over two millennia ago.

before the instagram shots, though, a panorama from the top station of the cable car. in the distance you can see the Dead Sea (sliver of blue) and beyond that, Jordan (faint cliffs above the sliver). you can also see the winding Snake Path that intrepid visitors climb. (we were not so intrepid and gladly paid for the cable car.)

Panorama from Masada

sidebar: getting there it’s a quick-ish enough drive from Jerusalem, an hour and a half each way with no traffic. we took highway 1 (north of the city) east and then highway 90 south along the western shores of the Dead Sea. your ears may pop because you’re descending to the lowest point on earth on land! there are some checkpoints along the way but we were not stopped. once you arrive, there is a free parking garage located underneath the main base building. the cable car to the top operates every 15 minutes or sooner if full at either station. note there is no water available up at the top and you’re exposed to the hot sun. be warned! (there is a store at the bottom if you need anything.)


A lone, windswept tree

Commandant's building

Commandant’s headquarters

Old Roman encampment

Looking down on the surrounding land you can see remnants of the Roman encampments from the seige. Yes, those cliffs are high but you are even higher up.


The oldest synagogue in the world (supposedly) had a scribe working in it. (This tiny room is the only part of the complex that’s not in ruins.)

Ancient mosaic in the western palace.

Mosaics from millennia ago are still embedded in the floor of the western palace.

4 Comments on "Instawalk: Masada, King Herod’s Fortress Palace High Above the Dead Sea"

  1. Nice post. The snake path is not so difficult. My first Masada visit predated the cable car, so I had no choice but to make the climb. Since it was summer – July or August 1967 to be exact – we made the hike up before the sun rose!

    • oh wow! it must have been amazing to watch the sun rise over the expanse below! i dunno, i’m not sure i could do the climb, but i can imagine there is a great satisfaction in doing it!

  2. The snake path is the best part! Well, that is if you don’t go for the more-vertical Roman rampart on the back side 🙂

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