The most impressive historical site near the Dead Sea is undoubtedly Masada. Visitors can take a cable car to the flat summit of this 400m-high mesa and explore the preserved remains of King Herod’s 2,000-year-old fortress. Not far from the shore of the Dead Sea is Qumran, today it is an archaeological site, but in 150BC Qumran was settled by the strictly observant Jewish Essenes sect. It is also where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in nearby caves. In the modern city of Arad, are the excavated remains of a Canaanite city from the 2nd millennium BC, including a palace, a Jewish temple, and towers.
Hundreds of years ago southern Israel’s deserts were home to several monasteries, where monks enjoyed the peace and seclusion of the desert. The impressive desert monasteries near the Dead Sea include the Byzantine Monastery of Saint Euthymius in the Judean Desert, Martyrius Monastery, St. Gerasimos’ Monastery, St. George Monastery in Wadi Qelt, and Mar Saba Monastery. At Kibbutz Ein Gedi you can see a brilliant floor mosaic that was part of a 3-4th century synagogue. The incredible thing about historical sites near the Dead Sea is how they blend with the desert landscape and have survived the harsh environment for thousands of years.