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February 24, 2022

About the Dead Sea

Masada near the Dead Sea

Kat Sniffen  CC BY-SA 2.0

The Dead Sea In Israel

Wondering what to do at the Dead Sea? Located around the Dead Sea are several national parks which provide an opportunity to explore Israel’s natural beauty. Each has its own history and points of interest. While you likely won’t have time to visit them all, many of the parks are located in close proximity and can be visited in the same day.

Dead Sea Information: Nearby Attractions

Masada National Park

This popular attraction is a must see as part of a tour of the Dead Sea.  The Masada fortress, originally built by King Herod, is carved into a plateau and offers 360-degree views of the surrounding terrain. A trip to Masada allows a visitor to learn about the original fortress, palaces and storerooms, and about the Jewish rebels who fortified themselves there against the Roman Army. Visit the Roman villa dating back to the first century and plan to stay for the twice-weekly sound and light show between March and October. Visit the Yigael Yadin Masada Museum for archeological discoveries showcased in a theatrically and meticulously planned exhibit. Masada National Park is just 30 minutes from Arad and the Tel Arad National Park.

אסף.צ  Public DomainTel Arad Fortress

אסף.צ  Public Domain
Tel Arad Fortress

Tel Arad National Park

Tel Arad is an archeological goldmine. Located in southern Israel, about 30 km northeast of Be’er Sheva and just northwest of Arad, this park is built on a hill approximately 40 meters above its surroundings.  Here you will find the remnants of two ancient cities.  The lower city, occupied during the Bronze Age (3150-2200 BCE), was surrounded by a 1200-meter wall, while the upper city was built around 1200 BCE.  The lower city was designed to collect rainwater in a reservoir and demonstrated detailed planning of buildings, residences and open areas.

The upper city is fascinating for the sheer number of additional fortresses, each built on the ruins of the previous one. The Israelite temple found in the fortress’ courtyard was a miniature version of the temple constructed by King Solomon in Jerusalem. Remnants include the names of Jewish priestly famiy names found on potsherds.  Nearby Arad offers access to Masada National Park, as well as an Artist’s Quarter and a Glass Museum.

Asaf T.  Public DomainHerodium From Above

Asaf T.  Public Domain
Herodium From Above

Herodian (Herodium) National Park

South of Jerusalem and east of Bethlehem, on the edge of the desert and not far from the Dead Sea, is another palace and fortress with a spectacular view.  Built by King Herod as his final resting place, visitors can take in sweeping views of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Judean Desert.  Constructed with double walls 64 meters in diameter and an incredible seven stories high, this artificial mountain was later used by Jewish fighters during the Bar Kokhba revolt.  The complex tunnel network carved into the artificial mountain can be partially viewed today. Also still visible is the synagogue created during the Great Revolt.   Once the home of King Herod’s large pool and bathhouse, this ancient compound is steeped in Jewish history.

Qumran National Park

Bukvoed  CC BY 3.0Qumran National Park Caves

Bukvoed  CC BY 3.0
Qumran National Park Caves

Qumran National Park, located approximately 40 minutes from Jerusalem, is famous for being the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947-1956. Not as well known, Qumran was also the site where a small sect, the Essenes, lived around the first century.  Known for their religious devotion, isolationist views, and abandonment of worldly pleasures, the site offers insight into their daily lives and visitors can view ancient artifacts such as  tools, pottery, and aqueducts.  Coins found here were dated to the Bar Kokhba Revolt from 132 to 135 BCE.  Visitors can visit the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were located.

About the Dead Sea: Did You Know?

Once you have visited the Dead Sea, visit nearby Masada and the Herodian Park where you can witness up-close the magnificent structures built by King Herod.

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