Masada, a desert mesa rising high above the Dead Sea, figures prominently in the Israeli psyche. Shorthand for describing a kind of ‘they’ll never take us alive’ attitude, the term ‘Masada complex’ is part of modern-day Israeli parlance. The story of the siege that took place here has been adopted as a symbol for the modern Jewish state. Israeli school children visit the site as part of their curriculum and some Israel Defence Forces (IDF) units hold their swearing-in ceremonies here, replete with the oath that ‘Masada shall not fall again’. For travellers Masada is an absolute must-see. Set amid spectacular scenery, the site exudes a haunting ambience (especially before dawn) that is unforgettable.