Located in Israel's coastal region, halfway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, Caesarea is nothing short of an archeological wonderland.
Named Caesarea in honor of Julius Caesar, Herod arranged to build monuments worthy of any Roman conquest. An aqueduct, a hippodrome and a grand amphitheater were built in Caesarea, parts of which remain standing to this day.
Centuries later, Jewish philanthropist Baron Edmund James de Rothschild discovered the sun-kissed beaches and ancient structures of Caesarea and bought much of the land, planning on turning it into a resort town. In time, Caesarea became a coveted vacation town and tourist destination. It’s a city that fits into any Israel tour, offering an ideal mix of history and leisure.
Remnants of a Glorious Past
Most Israel tours make a point of stopping to see Caesarea's amphitheater and hippodrome, two grand Roman monuments that are still intact and are reminiscent of Caesarea's glorious past.
Caesarea's amphitheater is generally well preserved, though parts of its meter-high exterior walls have been destroyed by the saltwater of the adjacent sea. At its fullest capacity, the amphitheater was able to seat 15,000 viewers, making it the biggest performance venue in all of Palestine. The amphitheater is still in use today with performances by Israel's biggest stars held daily during the summer months; its breathtaking view of the Mediterranean sea and the breeze that sweeps through at all hours of the day make it a popular destination.
Caesarea's hippodrome is a circular structure originally built as a racetrack, and is similar in style and function to Rome's grand Circus Maximus. The walls that lined the arena have remained intact, although races and other performances are no longer held in this venue.
The city’s aqueduct was built along its sandy beaches and carried water from the feet of Mount Carmel in the north to the city center. A system of pipes and arched walls, which carried the water to the city, is still visible today, serving as a testament to the genius of its architecture. The nearby Antiquity Museum in Kibbutz Sdot Yam displays more artifacts from the Herodian era, including collections of Roman pottery, household artifacts and coins.
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