Caesarea National Parks is a large archaeological site exploring the Roman-Crusader era including the vast Herodian Amphitheater. Besides de actual ruins, there are multimedia presentations.
The ruins of Caesarea on the Mediterranean Coast
Entering through the northerly Crusader gate, you'll pass the Cardo or excavated Byzantine street.
During Herod’s time this was a shrine to Roma and Augustus, that later became a byzantine church, a mosque and a Crusaders era church.
Herodian Amphitheater in Caesarea
Keep walking south and you’ll get to the highlight of Caesarea National Park, the Herodian Amphitheater seating more than 10,000 people. Here slaves and prisoners battled with wild animals.
At the southern end of the amphitheater is the Roman-era Promontory Palace, while a Roman theater, which is Israel’s oldest lies east.
The famous Aqueduct of Caesarea
History of Caesarea
At its peak the city had about 200,000 inhabitants. It stood proud for over a thousand years, when it was finally destroyed in the 13th century.
It was built on the ruins of an earlier Phoenician or Canaanite town called Stratton Tower. IN 90 BCE it was conquered by the Hasmonean kingdom and it remained Jewish until conquered by Rome in 63 BCE.
Herod the Great named it Caesarea Maritima in honor of Augustus Caesar. It became an exemplary Roman city with a vast Roman culture. It had temples, a palace, a racecourse, baths, markets, and roads. Every five years, the city had sports competitions and gladiator games.
Herod built a wave breaker for the harbor and an aqueduct to bring fresh water and a system of channels throughout the city, for the salt water to enter and wash the streets keeping them clean.
Caesarea National Park
Tensions between the Jews and the Romans
There was tension between the Jewish inhabitants and the Roman inhabitants of the city. In 66 CE, a synagogue was desecrated by the sacrifice of a bird outside the synagogue. This led to fighting and the massacre of thousands of Jews in the city. These events triggered the Jewish revolt against Rome.
In 70 CE, the Jewish revolt was suppressed. Games were held in Caesarea Maritima to celebrate Titus’s victory against the Jews. 2500 Jewish prisoners were killed during the Gladiatorial games.
Ruins of Caesarea on the Mediterranean Coast of Israel
What to see
Archaeology works started in the 1950s and 1960s and the ruins of the great city were discovered.
Caesarea also has an underworld museum, where divers can explore the ancient harbor with waterproof maps.
The park is open during the standard park hours in Israel. In winter, 8:00-16:00 and in summer, 8:00-17:00
Map of Israel showing the location of Caesarea
images for caesarea national-park
caesarea 1 by noa gabai
amphi by katharina eichler
aqueduct by larry koester
port by bukvoed
caesarea 2 by bukvoed
all courtesy of wikimedia commons
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