Herod's oppressive policies, including the execution of masses of both Jewish leaders and humble subjects, left him in constant fear of revolt. The paranoia that typically develops from megalomania didn't help much either. To keep himself safe and sound, he built Metzada, a desert fortress standing on a massive mesa with sheer cliffs all around. Here, he withstand a siege for years, giving plenty of time for reinforcements to arrive from Rome.
The hike up the snake path is something of a "high profile" hike.
There is a cable car for those who don't want to hike all the way up.
It has a reputation of being quite strenuous, but really, I didn't find it so difficult. It took me about 45 minutes at an easy pace.
Metzada is considered a major landmark not because of Herod, a run-of-the-mill oppressor of Jews who was thrown on the ash heap of history five minutes after his death, but because of another drama that unfolded here.
Herod's design was, in fact, so defensible that it was used by the Jews during the revolt against the Romans. In 70 CE, as the Romans wiped out the last Jewish strongholds, a surviving band of 936 rebels fled to Metzada. The Romans laid siege.
The remains of Herod's Palace today.
To be continued...