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Set along the sandy coastline of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Caesarea “Maritima” (“on the sea”) was a major city port in Roman and Byzantine times. Today Caesarea is a national park and one of the most popular tour destinations in Israel.

A Brief Historical Review

Caesarea was founded in 25 BCE by Herod the Great and named in homage of Caesar and Rome. It quickly developed as a major port city and in the byzantine period it elevated to a provincial capital. Its final abandonment was in 1265 CE and up to the 19th century when a small Muslim Bosnian village developed over its ruins. However, in the 1920’s the whole area was purchased by the Jewish Philanthropist Edmond the Rothschild. Following the 1948 War of Independence, Caesarea was declared a national park, with join management of the Rothschild foundation.

Touring Caesarea Today

Nowadays Caesarea is a national park, welcoming visitors every day of the week, from 8:00 to 18:00. The site boasts a wealth of finds from Roman, Byzantine and Crusaders periods complemented by fine dining options and art galleries. The site is under constant development and in 2021 a new visitor center was opened in its port.

Caesarea’s Theatre – Start at the partially restored Roman-era set next to Herod’s palace. Originally designed to accommodate 9,000 spectators, it is still used for popular summer concerts.

Herod’s Palace – Overlooking the Mediterranean, Herod’s palace once boasted a lavish living with breathtaking seaside views. Some suggest that a space beneath it may have been used to imprison Paul (Acts 23:35).

Caesarea’s Hippo-Stadium – Walk through unique entertainment facility that was designed as a racetrack for horses (Hippodrome) and a stadium. Later is used also as an amphitheater with a public latrine.

Herod’s Port – Conclude at Herod’s most remarkable feat of engineering. This harbor could accommodate up to 100 Roman cargo boats, and it its time it was the biggest man-made port in the entire Roman empire.

Special activities In and Around Caesarea

caesarea aquaduct shutterstockBeyond its archaeological wonders, Caesarea offers unique activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving in Herod’s sunken harbor. If you wish to stay dry, consider a hike to the city’s ancient synagogue and aqueduct.
You can also reach these sites in an exciting off-road EZ Raider tour, which will also take you to Caesarea’s Byzantine Street and eastern hippodrome. Art and archaeology enthusiasts can visit the Ralli Museum, Sdot-Yam Museum, or partake in a glassblowing workshop at the harbor.

A tour of Caesarea can be combined in a day tour in the north, or as part of a comprehensive a multi-day tour of Israel.

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