One of the best known of all ancient Israeli sites, archeological remains dating back to many time periods have been uncovered in Caesarea, including the fortifications of a Crusader city and Roman theater. Caesarea was part of Herod the Great’s great building project in the Holy Land during the first century BC. At what was then the small Phoenician port, he constructed a magnificent Greek city complete with stadium and amphitheater. Herod also built an artificial harbor using underwater concrete piling, something that had never been attempted before. During Roman times, Caesarea was the capital of Palestine and was where Roman centurion Cornelius was converted by Peter.
Caesarea National Park
Caesarea National Park is located at the Roman theater entrance. From the entrance visitors first encounter the well preserved ancient theater built by Herod, which features architectural elements made of different materials on display. To the west of the theater is the Promontory Palace which overlooks the sea, while further north close to the beach is the hippodrome, later amphitheater. The amphitheater is quite well preserved, and in its heyday used to seat 15,000 people, making it the biggest performance venue in Palestine. It is still in use today with some of Israel’s best known stars appearing here in the summer months.
Pier and harbor
Inside the walled city, visitors can walk the pier and look out onto the Herodian harbor and see the arches of ancient aqueducts. The harbor and waterfront have been restored and is home to art galleries and restaurants. The Aqueduct Beach is a little further out and has additional aqueducts that carried water from Caesarea to the Shuni Springs at the base of Mount Carmel.
Many on a trip to Israel also visit the nearby Antiquity museum in Kibbutz Sdot Yam which features artifacts from the times of Herod including collections of pottery, household artifacts and coins.