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Historic Israel: Caesarea National Park

Updated on August 20, 2015

Planning a trip to Israel? Don't miss Caesarea!

When people think of Israel, archaeology and history may not the first things to come to mind. However, Israel is a country full of incredible historic sites and national parks. As an attachment to three major continents - Asia, Africa, and Europe, Israel has been fought over and captured by many ancient empires, each wanting it for strategic reasons.

The Israeli town Caesarea has a beautiful national park located between Tel-Aviv and Haifa. Throughout history this harbor town was sought after and fought over by different empires. Today the remains of the once glorious city can be seen in the national park.

**Note: All Photos on this lens were taken by author (during a fun weekend trip!)

Have you been to Caesarea?

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Quick Timeline

Do you know your Caesarea History?

First founded as a small Phoenician port city named Strato's Tower.

90 BCE: Town captured by Alexander Jannaeus and annexed into the Hasmonean kingdom.

31 BCE: Caesar captured and gifted the town, to Herod the great.

22 - 10 BCE: Herod builds and names the town after Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus.

Byzantine period: Caesarea became an important Christian center. It also flourished financially.

639: Caesarea, as was all of Eretz Israel, was conquered by the Muslims.

1101: Conquered by the crusaders.

1187: Captured by Saladin, who reduced its defenses but abandoned it to the Crusaders in 1191.

1251: Louis IX fortified the city.

1265: The city was captured by the Mamluks,lead by sultan Baybars and was destroyed.

1900-1948: A small bosnian town is founded in Caesarea.

A comprehensive history of Caesarea - Highly recommended.

Written by two members of archaeological expeditions which have excavated at Caesarea. This book tells the story of the great city, from its beginnings to its destruction in the 13th century.

Caesarea's Other Name

Several other cities were given the name "Caesarea", so this one was named by Herod the Great , Caesarea Martima (Caesarea-by-the-Sea) to distinguish it from the others.

Activities for kids and families - Families will find fun educational exhibits.

Caesarea national park offers some interesting informative exhibits.

The first is a 10 minute movie about Caesarea's many rulers through time. The movie shows how each empire (Muslims, Crusaders and Romans) captured and rebuilt the city to fit their needs.

For example, during the ancient roman era a pagoda was built on the highest spot in the city. When the crusaders took over the city they built a majestic church in the pagoda's place. The Muslims during their era built a mosk in the ruins of the church.

Another attraction is the character holograms. This cool exhibit allows children (through a touch screen) to pick a historic character from a specific era. Then, an actor appears on a screen and "talks" to the viewers about their lives in ancient Caesarea.

Really fun!

There is another 10 minute movie that focuses entirely on the architecture of the city.

Amazing historical ruins! - This is a picture of the ruins of a roman bath house.

Although Caesarea was actually destroyed in 1265 by sultan Baybars, archaeologists have recovered incredible ruins.

The first group of archaeologists to research Caesarea was the British PEF (The Palestine Exploration Fund) in 1873.

Some of the ruins include:

- Roman amphitheater

-Byzantine bath houses

-hippodrome that seated 30,000 people

-2,600 meter Byzantine Wall that surrounded the city

-Roman harbor

-Ancient Byzantine synagogue

-The oldest Roman theater to have been discovered in Israel

-2 aqueducts: 8 meters high and 5.5 meters high.

Ancient Roman Sarcophagus with the face of "Medusa" - Just one of many cool artifacts.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The sign explaining (in Hebrew and English) about the  Sarcophagus.Full body view.Front view.Back view.
The sign explaining (in Hebrew and English) about the  Sarcophagus.
The sign explaining (in Hebrew and English) about the Sarcophagus.
Full body view.
Full body view.
Front view.
Front view.
Back view.
Back view.

And of course... - How could the trip be complete without ice cream?

When (or if...) you get tired of exploring the ancient city its time to check out some cool restaurants and stores. The cool part is that all of the stores and restaurants are made out of the same sandstone that the city is made from. They really fit in!

The stores we saw on OUR trip were very cool! (pictures bellow)

Be sure to check out the art stores, Roman jewelry stores and spinning top stores.

There is a beautiful restaurant by the sea and an old ice cream parlor for when you get hungry. But personally I would eat at the restaurant titled "The Crusaders"!

Fun businesses to check out. - These were some of our favorites.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A little shop dedicated to "dreydals" otherwise known as spinning tops.A chess set from spinning tops.My little brother checking out the dreydals.A scenic view from a seaside restaurant (the picture doesn't do it justice!)Totally gorgeous jewelry that is made with remains of ancient roman jewelry that was found in Caesarea!:)
A little shop dedicated to "dreydals" otherwise known as spinning tops.
A little shop dedicated to "dreydals" otherwise known as spinning tops.
A chess set from spinning tops.
A chess set from spinning tops.
My little brother checking out the dreydals.
My little brother checking out the dreydals.
A scenic view from a seaside restaurant (the picture doesn't do it justice!)
A scenic view from a seaside restaurant (the picture doesn't do it justice!)
Totally gorgeous jewelry that is made with remains of ancient roman jewelry that was found in Caesarea!:)
Totally gorgeous jewelry that is made with remains of ancient roman jewelry that was found in Caesarea! :)

Did you know?

Ezer Weizman, (seventh President of Israel) and Benjamin Netanyahu, (current Prime Minister of Israel) are both from Caesarea.

My little brother's review of Caesarea - That's me in the hipadrom pretending to ride a horse carriage in a race.

"Hi everyone! my name is matan, I'm the younger brother of this author. And I'm going to review my trip to Caesarea:

When I got there I watched 2 movies that explained about Caesarea. It was very interesting. Then I went to check out some cool remains. After that I went to eat some ice cream and it was yummy. After that me and my big sister went to check out some pottery pieces near the national park. We found very interesting stuff. My sister found a very rare piece of pottery. It looked weird in a shape of an ancient statue. We didn't know what it was. i recommend to go there cause its fun learning about Caesarea!

Bye bye,

Matan"

What I love about Caesarea - Authors note.

Cool findings
Cool findings

I have always been a fan of archaeology (maybe having a serious crush on Indiana Jones is to blame...)

And you know what? I live in the right country.

Israel has many incredible historic and archaeological sites all over. However, Several things make Caesarea stand out from the rest.

Firstly, it’s the scenic location by the ocean and the maintenance. This national park is SO beautiful, pictures don't do it justice; the Mediterranean ocean sparkles against the sandy remains of the ancient city. And shockingly it is also well maintained and tourist oriented (exhibits, shops and films). This is a rare combination for us in Israel!

Another thing is the way it feels like there are things left to be explored and discovered. The sandy ground is COVERED with shards of clay pots. With the town's rich history, Archaeologists probably don't have time to deal with them. They have to uncover coins and statues and castles.

But we do. Its fun to rummage through the shards in hope of finding something left behind--but of course not to take it home! Me and my brother spent some time looking through he remains and found dome neat things: a pot handle piece some textured pot shards and even a glazed pot shard with the writing of an archaeologist on it.

And lets not forget--the remains of the city are really incredible and in good shape. You can spend hours exploring ruins of roman castles trying to figure out what each room served as.

Caesarea Harbor official video - It is in Hebrew. For non speakers; watch to get a virtual tour.

Roman Glass Jewlery--this business is located in the national park. - Every piece of jewelry is accompanied by a document certifying the authenticity of the Rom

Official Roman Glass Jewelry Website

Over 200 original designs in genuine Roman glass inlaid with pure silver. Every piece of jewelry is inlaid with shards of ancient glass that were discovered during an archaeological dig in the area.

The patina (the colorful layer on glass) was created over two thousand years as a result of chemical reaction in the earth.

Designers, sapphire artists, who are located in Kibbutz Ravadim, have an international reputation and are considered leaders in Roman Glass jewelry.

Do you want/plan to visit this historic city?

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      StrongMay 4 years ago

      I love Caesarea. I have been there many times - once or twice every year or two. Every tourist who comes our way we take there. Also advisable is Beit Sha'an.

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      Lindrus 4 years ago

      I just came back from an Israel trip and I was excited to see all the history, Caesarea included. Great place to visit!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes. l love Caesarea!