Masada and the Dead Sea
I admit that I wasn't thrilled to drive an hour and a half out of the city to see another historical site but in the end I am glad we went. At breakfast, before we left we bumped into people we had not seen since our days in Chappaqua and then at Masada when we were getting off the cable car we saw some people we know from NYC and tonight we are having dinner with good friends who are here in Jerusalem too. Fred has bumped into people, Jessica has bumped into people….I kind of feel like we are at home.
You have two options to get to the top of Masada, you can walk or you can take the cable car. We took the cable car. It reminded me of going up Table Mountain in Cape Town. Up you go to the top of quite a large plateau although this particular spot is where King Herod built himself a seriously sweet palace, 450 meters above sea level, in the event of a revolt. It is here where the Jewish freedom fighters fought against the Romans in their siege to take over Judea.
Besides the views what is most amazing is what was built from that time and so high up. The black lines represent the top of what was found upon excavation, everything above it was built so we can see what it would have looked like. This is the inside of one of the rooms where one of the Generals probably lived as you can see the beautiful walls that existed.
In many of the rooms are intricate mosaics on the floors.
Here is a replica of what the palace looked like when it was built.
You can see the height of the walls from this picture.
This is the inside of the baths. All the baths around the world at this point were all built by Roman architects so as archeologists have discovered baths all around the world from the same time period the baths are all the same. Quite cool. Check out the tiles. Perfect triangles set in the floor. These days we use Black and Decker tools with specks of diamonds to cut the stones so precise. How the hell did they make it so perfect thousands of years ago?
This is the steam room. The floor was built up on short pillars so the steam can be generated from underneath the floor. The walls had the same concept but behind the walls were hollow bricks so the steam could seep through to create a flow of heat around the room. In many ways, nothing has changed.
Below are the Roman camps. You can see five of them from the top of Masada.
We left Masada and drove over to the Dead Sea. About 15 minutes from Masada is a public beach. People come for the day, pay to use the facilities, swim in the pool, dip in the Dead Sea, coat themselves with mud and possibly have a massage. Quite an interesting place and clientelle.
Josh and I bagged the experience. I am actually allergic to sulphur and since there is plenty of sulphur in the area, I wasn't taking the risk of breaking out in hives. Sounds crazy but what can I say.
The three of them got a kick out of the whole thing. The Dead Sea shrinks back about 3 feet every year. There are signs posted so you can see exactly where the sea was in 1990, 1995, 2000 etc. It is dramatic how far back the sea has receded in a relatively short time. Fred said walking into the sea is like walking on chunky salt. Here you can see where the sea was years ago and what was left as it dried up….chunky pieces of salt.
We drove back to Jerusalem to take is easy before the evening activities.
The good thing about this is these day trips are not too daunting because of the short distances.
Nice pictures.I think Masada is the best historical site in Israel, it’s most preserved one, so there is a lot to see.And about the Dead sea – did you know that the Dead sea itself has been chosen as one of the 28 finalists in the new7wonders campaign (you can vote here http://www.votedeadsea.com )?