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The Ancient Roman Port City of Caesarea and National Park
Not far from the magnificent new Caesarea golf course is one of the most astonishing archaeological sites in Israel-Caesarea, the second largest port city in the ancient Roman Empire.
Initially established by the Phoenicians in the Third Century BCE, Caesarea, then called Stratton's Tower, became a Jewish city for a short time during the Hasmonean period. After the Roman conquest and beginning about 22 BCE King Herod began his huge building projects in honor of the Emperor Caesar Augustus including construction of a deep sea harbor, massive storerooms, markets, boulevards, public baths, temples, and extravagant public buildings. Every few years the city hosted major sports events such as gladiator fights, and dramatic Roman theater productions. Today the Roman Amphitheater has been renovated and is used throughout the summer for modern concerts and shows.
Caesarea also boasts a fascinating Byzantine, Crusader, Arab and Zionist history as well. Archeology buffs and even the more casual visitor will want to allow plenty of time for wandering the well-preserved excavations.
Welcome to the Port of Caesarea and the Caesarea Experience
Travel through Time - Multimedia Show at the Port of Caesarea
The best place to start a visit to the ancient port city of Caesarea is an impressive Travel through Time display, which allows the visitor to quickly become familiar with the site and its history. A 10-minute multimedia visual experience presents the city throughout the ages as it became transformed from a sleepy Phoenician port to a magnificent Roman city then on to the Byzantine and Crusader, Arab and Zionistic periods and beyond. Next the visitor proceeds to a hall surrounded by 4 screens that introduce 12 important figures from the city's history. Pick your favorite personality from among King Herod, Louis IX, Rabbi Akiva, Baron Rothschild, Hannah Senesh and others for a personal "meeting" to hear their stories.
On to the Time Tower overlooking a spectacular view. In both Time Tower halls the huge screens allow visitors to take a virtual tour of the city, stroll through buildings and streets and even vicariously enjoy activities such as horse racing in the hippodrome, theater performances, shopping in the market, welcoming ships arriving at the port. Caesarea must have seemed like the center of the world to its inhabitants.
With their newly gained expertise visitors can walk the paths of the national park to see the actual sites they have just seen virtually. After immersion in history visitors can return to the 21st Century to enjoy the modern artists' courtyard, dine in one of several restaurants or even relax on Caesarea's sandy beach.