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In the first century CE, King Herod designed a promontory palace on a daring cliff above the sea. At its eastern end, two inscriptions were uncovered, suggesting the location of a local police force and prison. The Book of Acts records Paul being held in Herod’s praetorium for years before being sent to Rome. Some inscriptions suggest it may have been in Herdo’s palace’s eastern wing.

Where was Paul’s Prison in Caesarea?

The Book of Acts records the spread of Christianity and the formation of the early Christian church. The most influential figure in spreading and formulating the Christian faith is Saul from Tarsus. Known as Paul (or Saint Paul), Saul first appears as a persecutor of Christians, but after a miraculous event, he becomes Jesus’ most prominent advocate. Spreading the Christian message in Jerusalem, he quickly finds himself in custody and is eventually sent to Rome for trial. When he is brought to Caesarea to be sent to Rome by boat, the Book of Acts records him being placed in Herod’s Praetorium in Caesarea. Praetorium initially designated the general’s tent in a Roman encampment. It gradually became known also to mark the governor’s office. The trial of Jesus, for example, was held in the praetorium of Jerusalem.

No contemporary historical source indicates if and where there was a Praetorium in Caesarea in the first century CE. But it makes sense to suggest the Roman governor resided in the Herod’s former palace. Supportive evidence of this possibility is that two inscriptions were recorded near the entrance to Herod’s palace. Both suggested the presence of policing forces in this area (CVSTODIARVM  and  FRVMENTARII). Furthermore, in the northern wing of the Palace, a hall with a heating system was uncovered beneath the floor.

This may be where Paul was imprisoned and occasionally appeared to the Governor. There is no proof for this, but it is a plausible possibility.

A visit to the possible prison site of Paul in Caesarea can be combined with a day tour of Caesarea and other sites in its vicinity.

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