Masada is recognised as a World Heritage site for its architectural remains including Herod's Palace and well preserved Roman Imperial constructions. Situated on a flat plateau with cliffs up to 400m and overlooking the Dead Sea it was of huge strategic importance.
But Masada is of far greater importance to the Jewish people as a symbol of the fight between freedom and oppression. It was at this place that Jewish fighters held off a vast Roman army in a siege that lasted for months. The Romans constructed a ramp to regain control of the fort and at the point that they battered their way in to the fortress the bodies of almost a thousand Jews were discovered having elected to die rather than to be captured by the Romans. The Jewish leaders were determined to show their resilience to the very end and it is thought that each fighter killed another with only the very last having to take his own life as suicide is not permitted in the Jewish religion. It was also important to show the Romans that the decision had been made to die rather than to surrender and that they had not been starved out but had plentiful supplies on which they could have survived.
To this day Israeli soldiers take an oath delaring that Masada will not be forgotten.