Masada is the dramatic ruin of a lavish fortified palace on a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea that was built by Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BCE. From 66 to 73 CE, the fortress would be the home of the final Jewish holdouts in a revolt against Rome. That final stand takes on contemporary Zionist symbolism as, reputedly, Israeli Defense Forces soldiers that complete basic training are sworn in on the sight in a ceremony that ends with the declaration, "Masada shall not fall again."
The construction of such a facility (including bathhouses) in such a desolate place is testament to both the skill and the audacity of the Romans. Perhaps the most notable engineering feat was the creation of series of lower level dams and cisterns that permitted capture of brief seasonal floods to provide water for year-round use on the plateau. But the fact that the Romans could mobilize and compel enough surplus slave labor to survive the harshness of the construction environment and build such a frivolity is also remarkable. The fact that a group of Jews would rather die here than submit to Roman rule may be testament to how horrible that rule was, and/or how uniquely committed the Jewish people have been to preserving their own identity.