Caesarea
Also Known as Keysarea in Hebrew

Caesarea is called Keysarea in Hebrew. It is located north of Tel Aviv on the way to Haifa on the beautiful shores of the Mediterranean Sea.The ruins are an important tourist attraction to visitors to the Holy Land.

Next to the ruins lies a modern city with spectacular villas very popular among Israel’s elite and affluent.It is known that the only Golf Course in Israel is located here.

Aerial view of the ancient port

Places of interest

  • The Roman Amphitheater
    Today it is a modern performance site keeping the glory of its past. A plaque showing the name of its builders was found in one of the excavations with the names “TIBERIVM” and “TIV PILATUS” meaning Tiberius and Pontius Pilate.

  • Herod’s Harbor
    In 21 BCE Herod the Great built a two part harbor in Caesaria. Built during a 12 year period it was named Sebatos, the Greek translation of Augustus the Emperor. Today is not in using conditions and the breakwaters ar submerged 5 meters below the waters.

  • The Hippodrome
    Used in Herod’s time for chariot races, it held 20,000 spectators at a time. Today it is a banana field of one of the Kibbutzim. King Louis IX of France, also known as St Louis spent a year in Caesarea after being release from prison in Egypt. He helped build the city walls that were later destroyed by the Mamluks when the Crusaders were driven out.

  • Promontory Palace
    Flavius described it as most magnificent palace. Built by Herod the great was built on a hill (promontory) near the waters of the Mediterranean. The pool was a large one and a statue stood at the middle of it.

  • Kibbutz Sdot Yam
    Many Caesareans relics and archaeological findings can be seen at nearby Kibbutz Sdot Yam.

    It is also the home of Hannah Senesh House, the amazing story of the Jewish woman that joined the British Army and voluntarily parachuted behind enemy lines in World war II.  She was captured and tortured and finally executed by the Germans in 1944.
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The ancient Amphitheater is used for concerts and great performances

History

The city also known as Caesarea Maritima was originally called Straton’s Tower after its founder Straton, a ruler of Sidon in the 4th Century BCE. In 96 BCE the city was captured by the Hasmonean lead by Alexander Yanai.

It remained in their hands until it was declared an independent city by Pompey. For a short period of history it was on the hands of Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt and later returned to King Herod by Augustus.

King Herod converted his city into a great city second only to Jerusalem in Palestine. He made a deep harbor, and aqueduct, a hippodrome and a magnificent amphitheater that you can visit today.

If you are a good singer you can do it here, as our friend Paco from Puerto Rico that went up and delighted us with an aria from Opera Carmen to the delight of the tourists visiting at the moment.

The Ruins of the Roman Port next to modern facilities for beach goers

History of Caesaria

It was populated half and half Jews and Gentiles and in 6CE it became the home of the Roman procurator of Judaea. It remained in Roman and Byzantine hands as their capital.

The aqueduct originally built in the First century BCE was repaired and expanded bringing waters from the Springs of Mount Carmel a few Km away.

The Great revolt of 66-70 EC which spread throughout the country was started when the Syrian and Jewish communities started a fight over some Pagan rites conducted on Shabbat.

When the revolt was finally controlled by the Roman and after Jerusalem was destroyed, they made Caesarea their capital.

It is known that in Caesarea is where Rabbi Akiva was tortured and executed following the Bar Kochba Revol.

The Roman Aqueduct has been preserved for centuries

Christian History of Caesarea

This is where Pontius Pilate governed in the time of Jesus. Later Simon Peter converted Cornelius, the first non-Jew to believe in Jesus. Paul was imprisoned here.

In general for centuries it was an important site of Christian learning, especially after converting to Christianity on the 4th Century.

The Muslim invaded in 640 CE in a swept of force over the Middle East and driving the romas out. In 1101 the Crusaders captured again the city for a short period of 86 years when Saladin took it from their hands.

I kept changing hands until the Mamluks Sultan of Egypt destroyed it and remained desolate until the end of the 19th Century.

The beautiful Beach of Keysaria on the shores of the Mediterranean

Nowadays tourists from all denominations flock to Caesarea. It is on the way to all places in the north and it is a great tourist attraction.

On the other hand the modern city is an elegant suburb of beautiful homes, fine restaurants and halls for weddings and other parties overlooking the Mediterranean.

Image Credits:
amphitheater by eichler
beach by yulia kuprina
aqueduct n/a
roman port by deror avi

All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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