The Dead Sea is a salted lake bordered by Jordan to the east and the West Bank to the west. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley and its main tributary is the Jordan River. Its surface and shores are 430.5 meters below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land.
Ein Gedi, literally meaning "spring of the kid" is an oasis and a nature reserve in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the Qumran Caves. In 2016, Ein Gedi was listed as one of the most popular nature sites in the country and attracts about one million visitors a year.
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank managed by Israel's Qumran National Park. It is located on a dry marl plateau about 1.5 km from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea and lies near the Israeli settlement and Kibbutz of Kalya. The Hellenistic period settlement was constructed during the reign of John Hyrcanus (134–104 BCE) or somewhat later, was occupied most of the time until 68 CE and was destroyed by the Romans possibly as late as 73. It is best known as the settlement nearest to the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden, caves in the sheer desert cliffs and beneath, in the marl terrace. The principal excavations at Qumran were conducted by Roland de Vaux in the 1950s, though several later unearthings at the site have since been carried out. Israel's Nature and Parks Authority took over the site following the end of the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and seized Qumran. Israel has since invested heavily in the area to establish the Qumran caves as a site of "uniquely Israeli Jewish heritage".
Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel, situated on top of an isolated rock plateau akin to a mesa. It is located on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea 20 km (12 mi) east of Arad. Herod the Great built two palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, between 73 to 74 CE, Roman troops invaded Masada during the end of the First Jewish-Roman War. This siege came to an abrupt end following the mass suicide of the 960 Sicarii rebels who were in hiding there. However, according to Kenneth Atkinson, there is no archaeological evidence that Masada's defenders committed mass suicide. Masada is one of Israel's most popular tourist attractions. From 2005 to 2007 and 2009 to 2012, it was second-most popular behind the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, and currently attracts around 750,000 visitors a year. The cliff of Masada is, geologically speaking, a horst. As the plateau abruptly ends in cliffs steeply falling about 400 m (1,300 ft) to the east and about 90 m (300 ft) to the west, the natural approaches to the fortress are very difficult to navigate. The top of the mesa-like plateau is flat and rhomboid-shaped, about 550 m (1,800 ft) by 270 m (890 ft). Herod built a 4 m (13 ft) high casemate wall around the plateau totalling 1,300 m (4,300 ft) in length, reinforced by many towers. The fortress contained storehouses, barracks, an armory, a palace, and cisterns that were refilled by rainwater. Three narrow, winding paths led from below up to fortified gates.