Caesarea

Caesarea lies on a sandy shore of the Mediterranean, about half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa. This most fertile area of ancient Judea is the site of one of the most important cities of the Roman World and the capital of the Roman province of Judaea. Caesarea was founded between 22 and 10 BC by Herod the Great (37-4 BC) as an urban centre and harbour on the site of the earlier Strato’s Tower.

Coordinates: 32°30’0”N, 34°53’23”E

Caesarea

Caesarea was first settled by the Phoenicians who also founded the port cities of Sidon, Tyre and Byblos. In the 4th century BC the Phoenicians founded Strato’s Tower and used the natural bays and the nearby rivers in order to establish a port which provided all the essential services for the ships and their crews. The city changed hands many times before Roman troops entered Palestine in 63 BC, marching South from Syria under the leadership of Pompey the Great. Some three decades later, Augustus confirmed the client rule of Herod the Great in Palestine and designated him as the “King of the Jews”.

In an ambitious construction project lasting some twelve years, Herod turned Strato’s Tower into the main port of his kingdom. He named the city Caesarea in honour of Augustus. Herod’s building program included broad colonnaded streets, a palace, a temple, public buildings, a theatre, an amphitheatre and other entertainment facilities. However Herod’s port never attained the importance he surely hoped for. Caesarea lost its impact as a royal city when it was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the Antioch earthquake of 115 AD brought tsunami waves to the coast which badly damaged the harbour. The city reached the height of its prosperity when it became the country’s Byzantine administrative capital from the 4th to the 6th century AD. The city was later abandoned after the Arab conquest in the 8th Century AD. Today, it is a large and beautiful national park and a fascinating place to visit while exploring the Holy Land.

PORtFOLIO

The Promontory Palace of Herod the Great stretching into the sea.
The Promontory Palace of Herod the Great stretching into the sea.
The Lower Terrace of the Promontory Palace of Herod the Great stretching into the sea. It was the private section of the palace.
The Lower Terrace of the Promontory Palace of Herod the Great stretching into the sea. It was the private section of the palace.
The Lower Terrace of the Promontory Palace of Herod the Great stretching into the sea, the lower wing was built around a pool which was surrounded by four rooms decorated with mosaic floors.
The Lower Terrace of the Promontory Palace of Herod the Great stretching into the sea, the lower wing was built around a pool which was surrounded by four rooms decorated with mosaic floors.
The peristyle of the Upper Terrace of the Promontory Palace of Herod the Great with the Hippodrome in the background.
The peristyle of the Upper Terrace of the Promontory Palace of Herod the Great with the Hippodrome in the background.
The Hippodrome, built by Herod the Great for the inauguration of the city in 9/10 BC, it was the venue of the Actian Games instituted by King Herod in honor of emperor Augustus and held every 4 years.
The Hippodrome built by Herod the Great for the inauguration of the city in 9/10 BC. It was the venue of the Actian Games instituted by King Herod in honour of emperor Augustus and held every 4 years.
The Hippodrome was 300 metres long and fifty metres wide and may have had as many as 15,000 seats in Herod's day.
The Hippodrome was 300 metres long and fifty metres wide and may have had as many as 15,000 seats in Herod’s day.
View of the dignitaries' platform in the Hippodrome.
View of the dignitaries’ platform in the Hippodrome.
The Hippodrome was intended primarily for horse and chariot competitions. The riders' chariot pulled by two or four horses emerged from compartments on the northern side of the hippodrome.
The Hippodrome was intended primarily for horse and chariot competitions. The riders’ chariot pulled by two or four horses emerged from compartments on the northern side of the hippodrome.
Herod's Royal Harbor known as Sebastos, it was the disembarkation point for visitors to the city.
Herod’s Royal Harbor known as Sebastos, it was the disembarkation point for visitors to the city.
The Theatre constructed by Herod during the first stages of the city's development and renovated in the 2nd century AD, the seating capacity in its final stage was about 4,000. The theatre is still in use today for concerts and shows.
The reconstructed Theatre constructed by Herod during the first stages of the city’s development and renovated in the 2nd century AD, the seating capacity in its final stage was about 4,000. The theatre is still in use today for concerts and shows.
Dedicatory inscription found reused in the staircase of the theatre of Caesarea, the first and only mention of Pontius Pilates' name ever unearthed, 26-36 AD, Israel Museum, Jerusalem It reads: " Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honour of Tiberius".
Dedicatory inscription found reused in the staircase of the theatre of Caesarea. It is the first and only mention of Pontius Pilates’ name ever unearthed (26-36 AD, Israel Museum, Jerusalem)
The inscription reads: ” Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honour of Tiberius”.
Part of the eastern wharf of the inner harbour with the podium of the Temple of Augustus and a series a vault used as warehouses. The Temple of Augustus was built by Herod and was covered by an octagonal Byzantine church in the 6th century.
Part of the eastern wharf of the inner harbour with the podium of the Temple of Augustus and a series a vaults used as warehouses.
The Temple of Augustus was built by Herod and was covered by an octagonal Byzantine church in the 6th century. Only its huge podium and a series of steps can be seen today.
Part of the eastern wharf of the inner harbour with the podium of the Temple of Augustus and a series a vaults used as warehouses.
Part of the eastern wharf of the inner harbour with the podium of the Temple of Augustus and a series a vaults used as warehouses.
The high level aqueduct of Caesarea built by Herod the Great.
The high level aqueduct of Caesarea built by Herod the Great. Caesarea had no reliable source of fresh water when construction on the city began around 22 BC. King Herod commissioned a raised aqueduct to deliver water from the springs near Shuni, 16 kilometers north-east of Caesarea.
A portion of the high level aqueduct of Caesarea showing the two stages of construction.
A portion of the high level aqueduct of Caesarea showing the two stages of construction. When Hadrian visited Caesarea in 130 AD on his grand tour of the eastern part of the Roman Empire, the growth of the city required additional water. Hadrian then commissioned extensive repairs and a new aqueduct to be built. This new section (known as the high-level aqueduct II) was added to the right of the first canal and doubled its capacity.
Dedicatory inscription to Hadrian on the high-level aqueduct of Caesarea at Beit Hanania with the emblem depicting the 10th legion.
Dedicatory inscription to Hadrian on the high-level aqueduct of Caesarea at Beit Hanania with the emblem depicting the 10th legion.
Mithraeum, a 1st century grain storage converted into into a Mithraeum during the third century AD.
The Mithraeum, a 1st century grain storage converted into into a Mithraeum during the 3rd century AD.
Mithraeum, a 1st century grain storage converted into into a Mithraeum during the third century AD.
The Mithraeum, a 1st century grain storage converted into into a Mithraeum during the third century AD.
The Byzantine Bathhouse built in the 4th century AD.
The Byzantine Bathhouse built in the 4th century AD.
The palaestra in the Byzantine Bathhouse built in the 4th century AD. Before bathing clients could exercise in the palaestra.
The palaestra of the Byzantine Bathhouse. Before bathing clients could exercise in the palaestra.
A pool in the Byzantine Bathhouse built in the 4th century AD.
A pool in the Byzantine Bathhouse built in the 4th century AD.
The palaestra of the Byzantine Bathhouse.
The palaestra of the Byzantine Bathhouse.
The public latrine used during the Roman and Byzantine periods. Marble benches were set along the southern and western walls of the latrine. Water flushed through its channels laid a the bottom of the walls and connecting with the main sewer beneath the decumanus street.
The public latrine used during the Roman and Byzantine periods. Marble benches were set along the southern and western walls of the latrine. Water flushed through its channels laid a the bottom of the walls and connecting with the main sewer beneath the decumanus street.
The Praetorium, the Byzantine Governor's Palace, combining administration, financial and judicial functions.
The Praetorium, the Byzantine Governor’s Palace, combining administration, financial and judicial functions.
The Ibexes Mosaic Hall in the Praetorium, the Byzantine Governor's Palace.
The Ibexes Mosaic Hall in the Praetorium, the Byzantine Governor’s Palace.
The Governor's Palace Baths.
The Governor’s Palace Baths.
A section of a Byzantine street paved with opus sectile and mosaics, the statues are older dating to the 2nd and 3rd century AD, they originally belonged to Roman temples.
A section of a Byzantine street paved with opus sectile and mosaics, the statues are older dating to the 2nd and 3rd century AD, they originally belonged to Roman temples.
Porphyry statue of Hadrian seated and holding scepter and orb (now missing).
Porphyry statue of Hadrian seated and holding scepter and orb (now missing). The statue original home was not on the Byzantine street but it may come from a nearby temple dedicated to Hadrian when he visited Caesarea in 130 AD and endowed it with a new aqueduct.
Caesarea.
Caesarea.

A stunning mosaic floor known as the “Bird Mosaic” was uncovered by accident in 1955 on the outskirts of Caeserea, outside the walls of the ancient settlement. During the excavations of 2005 archaeologists determined that the ‘Bird Mosaic’ was part of a Byzantine palace complex dating from the 6th century AD. During the Byzantine period, the harbour city of Caesarea flourished and expanded as much as 800m inland. This palace complex, covering an area of nearly 1 acre (4,000 sq. meters), was probably owned by a reputable and wealthy family. The “Bird Mosaic” adorned the floor of a large open courtyard, the atrium, with a portico along the western and southern sides.

6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea.
6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea.
A peacock, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea.
A peacock, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea.
6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea.
6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea.

See more images of Caesarea Maritima on Flickr

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