Caesarea Maritima

Caesarea, Israel

Caesarea Maritima was an ancient and medieval port city on the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean, and later a small fishing village. It was the capital of Roman Judaea, Syria Palaestina and Palaestina Prima, successively, for a period of c. 650 years, and a major intellectual hub of the Mediterranean, from the time of Herod I until the Muslim conquest of the Levant. Today, the site is part of the Caesarea National Park, on the western edge of the Sharon plain in Israel.

The site was first settled in the 4th century BCE as a Phoenician colony and trading village known as Straton's Tower after the ruler of Sidon. It was enlarged in the 1st century BCE under Hasmonean rule, becoming a Jewish village, and in 63 BCE, when the Roman Republic annexed the region, it was declared an autonomous city. It was then significantly enlarged in the Roman period by the Judaean client king Herod I, who established a new harbour and dedicated the town and its port to Caesar Augustus as Caesarea.

During the early Roman period, Caesarea became the seat of the Roman procurators in the region. The city was populated throughout the 1st to 6th centuries CE and became an important early centre of Christianity during the Byzantine period. Its importance may have waned following the Muslim conquest of 640 when the city, then known in Arabic as Qisarya قيسارية, lost its status as provincial capital. After being re-fortified by Muslim rulers in the 11th century, it was conquered by the Crusaders, who strengthened and made it into an important port, and was finally slighted by the Mamluks in 1265.

Qisarya was a small fishing village in the early modern period. In the 1948 Palestine war its population fled ahead of or were expelled by the Zionist militant group Lehi and its houses demolished. The ruins of the ancient city beneath the depopulated village were excavated in the 1950s and 1960s for archaeological purposes, and in 1977, the site was incorporated into the modern municipality of Caesarea.

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Caesarea, Israel
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Founded: 4th century BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Israel

User Reviews

Cedric Martin (8 months ago)
If you love history, you're gonna love this archeological park! The Roman amphitheater, the Hippodrome, the Aqueduc and the ruins of Herode's Palace, built for Roman Emperor Augustus, are really something to see. You can even see Cleopatra's Pool ;-)
A V (globetrotter) (9 months ago)
It's all the ruins of what once was great port city. Most of the structures are gone, what's left are pieces of such structures, many are mounted on metal posts. I had visited other ruins of old towns/cities in my global travel. This one gave a distinct disappointment as there seems to be no signs of archaeologic activity on site. What's notably left here are: 1. the Roman Amphitheater, which has been dressed up and used for concerts: really? in such a fragile environment??? 2. the Hippodrome, a miniature version of Roman's Palatine. 3. portions of the citadel and tower. I'm not sure the 39NIS (10.26USD) is justified.
M (9 months ago)
Great place for being immersed in history while having good restaurants all around. I was shocked that they closed at 5pm the entry to the ancient remains.. I mean where do the directors of the place leave? It is Israel in august, you need to offer an early evening tour as it is too hot during the day!!! We had a full day with friends, restaurant, ice cream and a nice walk, plus we went to the beautiful little beach just after the beach bar and had a great swim (but remember to bring shoes as it is very rocky). It would have been 5 stars if it wasn’t for the place closing at 5pm!
Jason Bennett (9 months ago)
Loved it. I love the Israeli park system but this one in particular was a little annoying. It seems they’ve allowed to much of the world to deep into the antiquity; the amphitheater was dressed up for a concert and every where you turned there were concessions blasting junky western music.
Nahshon (11 months ago)
A must visit! This is a good half day tour from Tel Aviv or if you travelling to Haifa. Relatively big ancient ruins site, including the hippodrome, amphitheatre, and a stunning view of the crystal clear blue sea. You can also watch a short clip about the history of Caesarea and how/why the Romans built the city. If you are going on a sunny day, be sure to put plenty of sunscreen, bring a hat and water! There’s really not many shades available to hide under. Also don’t forget to visit the Aqueduct which is 5 minutes drive away (and is free to visit!)
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