Caesarea, located on the central Mediterranean coast of Israel, is the ancient Roman capital of Israel. Caesarea's story begins in the third century BCE during the time of the Hellenists as a small harbor-city called Straton's Tower. The population was mostly Jewish until it was conquered by the Romans in 63 BCE.
From 22 BCE King Herod transformed the city, building a sophisticated harbor, warehouses, markets, streets, bathhouses, temples and splendid public buildings, and renaming it Caesarea in honor of the Roman Emperor. Every five years gladiatorial games were held in the city in the theater and hippodrome.
Caesarea flourished until the eleventh-century Crusader conquest and at a later date the city and its monuments were buried by sand storms.
When touring ancient Caesarea, be sure to visit the following sites;
• The theater built by King Herod
• The hippodrome- an arena built by King Herod for sports games
• The palace whose original owners are unknown until this day. Some believe it was owned by King Herod whereas others believe that the paranoid king wouldn’t have built a palace so close to arenas that attracted thousands of visitors.
• The aqueduct, most probably built before the time of King Herod that had led a constant flow of water to the town from various sources.
• The temples built by King Herod in honor of Augustus (the Roman Emperor) and of the Goddess of the City of Rome.
• The various warehouses, markets, great streets, bathhouses and public buildings.
• The harbor that is filled with sea life including protected animals such as sea turtles and unique sea shells that are of ecological and natural preserved value to this shore.
• The galleries, restaurants, bathing beach and diving center that are modern yet unique in their own value.
Where: Caesarea National Park is located off the Tel aviv- Haifa highway near Kibbutz Sdot Yam, west of the town Or Akiva.
Hours: Apr-Sep 8:00-18:00, Oct-Mar 8:00-16:00