Caesarea – an ancient city along the coast of Israel

It is possible that a large percentage of visitors to the Holy Land do not schedule the amazingly restored ancient city of Caesarea into their Itinerary, I can assure visitors however that it is well worthwhile taking some time to explore this incredibly interesting place. Not difficult to get to, Caesarea is situated between Tel Aviv and Haifa on the shores of the Mediterranean.

In the first century BCE Herod the Great had visions of Hellenizing the Holy Land and began planning a Port City which would be Greek classical in style.  He chose the site of what was then called Stratton’s Tower which had in times past been a Phoenician Port of no great consequence. Herod planned the city to include an amphitheatre and stadium as well as an artificially built harbor.

 

Roman amphitheatre Israel
photo: www.goisrael.com

Today the excavations stretch from the Roman city, all the way to the Crusader City that was built later. The awesome Amphitheatre still stands today and continues to be used for performances; also still standing is the original aqueduct, hippodrome and a network of streets amongst many other fascinating archeological treasures.

During the Bar Kochba revolt of 135 CE, Caesarea was the place where Rabbi Akiva was tortured and then executed by the Romans.  It also marks some important events in Christian history. It was here that during the time of Jesus, Pontius Pilate established his seat of government. It was the place where Paul was imprisoned and became a centre of Christian learning in the 3rd century.

Caesarea is also a city of the future. Tourists can not only enjoy viewing the ruins of ancient exceptional buildings, relax on the sandy beach and maybe have a meal at one of the charming cafes and restaurants flanking the ruins, but can also drive through the quiet and tranquil streets of modern Caesarea with its beautifully designed modern homes, luxuriant golf course or browse through the Ralli art museum.

Caesarea restaurant on the seafront
photo: www.goisrael.com

 

Caesarea is a truly  wonderful and enjoyable place to spend some time during a visit to Israel and in my opinion should not be missed. So make sure that it it is part of your itinerary when you plan your next tour of the Holy Land

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