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.)
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.)