Caesarea is a town in Israel on the outskirts of Caesarea Maritima, the ancient port city which was our destination for the day. Viewing the old port was very interesting since it was once the site of a Phoenician port. Herod built Caesarea into the grandest city other than Jerusalem in Palestine, with a deep sea harbor, aqueduct, hippodrome and magnificent amphitheater that remain standing today.
I was so intrigued by the aqueduct that I even climbed to the top of it and got at very good view of the area. Then made my way to the top of the amphitheater where the view was even greater.
Herod renamed the city Caesarea in honor of the emperor. The population of Caesarea was half gentile and half Jewish, which often caused disputes among the people. In 6 AD Caesarea became the home of the Roman Procurators of Judea.
It is located mid-way between Tel Aviv and Haifa on the Israeli Mediterranean coast near the city of Hadera.
The Great Revolt of 66-70 AD started in Caesarea when the Jewish and Syrian communities began fighting over a pagan ceremony conducted near the entrance of a synagogue. The Romans ignored the Jewish protests of this provocation and violence soon spread throughout the country. When the Romans finally stopped the revolt, and razed Jerusalem, Caesarea became the capital of Palestine, a status it maintained until the Roman Empire was Christianized by the Emperor Constantine in 325 AD.
Caesarea is an important site in Christian history. It was the place where Pontius Pilate governed during the time of Jesus. It was also where Simon Peter converted the Roman, Cornelius, the first non-Jew to believe in Jesus. Even the Apostle Paul was imprisoned for two years in Caesarea. During the 3rd century, Caesarea was a center of Christian learning. In the 4th century, the site converted to Christianity and became a major center of the Christian Roman Empire.
Today, the amphitheater is not only a spectacular remain of the past, but a modern performing venue where concerts are frequently are still held. Inside the gate of the theater is a plaque with a replica of the inscription found during excavations in 1959-63 with the words "TIBERIVM" and "TIVS PILATUS," which are references to Emperor Tiberius and Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea. This was an important find because it is the only archaeological evidence of Pilate's existence. We were able to later see the original in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The inside of the theater is not only impressive as a remnant of the glory days of Rome, but for its spectacular view of the Mediterranean.
The Roman historian Flavius Josephus describes the harbor; "the king triumphed over nature and constructed a harbor larger than the Piraeus.
I deeply enjoyed seeing the great remains of the past here in Caesarea.
“And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. “--Acts 10:24
Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn., He is a freelance writer living in Ashville, Ohio and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on http://altonloveless.blogspot.com/