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B + 23 : Masada - a Palace and a Symbol

There is no sailing any longer and we deviated quite a bit yesterday from our original goal to explore Venetian trade routes. But given that we are already here, we decided to go to another sea - the Dead Sea. Having stocked up on bottled water, we were ready to go at 8 am in the morning.

Travelling through the Negev Desert - it gets more arid as we get closer to the Jordan Valley. Our destination for today was the Jewish Masada Fortress which started as a palace for King Herod - the man who also built the second temple in Jerusalem and Caesarea.

After a good two hours, the Dead Sea cam into view - 400 meters below sea level

We were now close to Masada - the giant plateau overlooking the Jordan Rift Valley

There was an interesting model on top that showed how Masada got its water from occasional flash floods - the ancients knew how to manage water!

Herod built his lush palace on the northern side of the plateau with minimal exposure to the sun but a spectacular view on the valley

His quarters were built in typical greco-roman style on several levels - however, not much of the palace is left though

Having been beaten everywhere, the rest of the Jewish rebels withdrew to Masada where they made their last stance against the Roman conquerors in 73 AD. More than 1'000 Jewish men, women and children committed suicide rather than falling into Roman hands and slavery. Massada is today an important site for the Israeli Defence Forces who conduct often ceremonial events here. The photo shows the ramp the Roman Legions used to storm the fortress - built by their prisoners of wars - the brothers and sisters of the Massada defenders.

After Masada we headed for a Kibbutz for lunch - simple but good cuisine

The small community had created a garden of eden out of nothing ...

... using water from flash rains as Herod once did for his Masada

The Kibbuzims produce vegetables and fruits for the hotels on the Dead Sea

Our way back followed the western shore of the Dead Sea - the deep dark blue of the super salty water is impressive - so is the heat 400 meters below sea level.

After another long day, we arrived at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, overlooking the old town. It would be dinner nearby and then time to return home. Three weeks ago we left the Marina in Göçek to follow Venetian trade routes all the way to Jaffa. We discovered Phoenician towns, ancient slave markets, pirate dens, Roman ports, places where Alexander the Great launched his offensive from, incredible feats of engineering, the first churches an much more. But time is over. Our journey continues next year from Corfu to Venice.


See you in June 2019 again on this blog when the new teaser series start!


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