Caesarea Maritima: Caesarea was a city and harbor built by King Herod the Great between 19–9 BCE. The city was named to flatter Augustus Caesar who nominated Herod as the King of Provincia Judaea in 37 BCE.
We have detailed description of the city by the famous historian Josephus Flavius: Antiquities of the Jews 15.8.5
War of the Jews 1:21.8 “So he dedicated the city to the province and the haven to the sailors there; but the honor of the building he ascribed to Caesar, and named it Caesarea accordingly.”
Josephus describes the harbor as being as large as the one at Piraeus.
Remains of the principal buildings erected by Herod are still visible today, including the city walls, theater, Roman bathing house, warehouses, hippodrome, the castle, The Druzian Tower, part of the harbor and a Crusader City and church.
Archaeological excavations in the 1950s and 1960s uncovered remains from many periods.
The city is also mentioned in the New Testament: Acts 10: 1 “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian Band.
2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his house, who gave many alms to the people and prayed to God always.”
The Apostle Paul often visited the city (9:30; 18:22; 21:8), and was imprisoned at Caesarea for two years before being taken to Rome (23:23, 25:1-13).
Caesarea became the civilian and military capital of Judaea Province in 13 CE and the official residence of the Roman procurators and governors including Pontius Pilatus, praefectus from 26-36 CE. Emperor Vespasian raised its status to that of a Colonia.
After the bar Kochva revolt in 135 CE, Caesarea became the center of Early Christianity in Palestine. As a result of that revolt, the spiritual leader of that revolt, Rabbi Akiva, was tortured and killed on account of his transgression of Hadrian’s edicts against the practice and the teaching of the Jewish religion. Sources that remained tell us that he was subjected to combing, a Roman torture in which the victim’s skin was flayed with iron combs.
In the 3rd century CE, Origen (one of the Christian father residing in Caesarea), wrote his Hexapla and other theological works.
Eusebius, one of its archbishops (315 – 318), wrote the History of the Church and the famous Onomasticon.
The Crusader city
During the First Crusade 1101/2, it was Baldwin who took the city which was still very rich. Today you can still see the remains of the walls.
During the 3rd Crusade, in 1251, Louis IX strongly fortified the city against the Mamluks.
A lordship was created there, as was one of the four archbishoprics in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Saladin retook the city in 1187; it was recaptured by the Crusaders in 1191.
The city finally lost it in 1265 to the Mamluks who totally erased the fortifications, like all other former-Crusader coastal cities and fortresses that fell under their hands.
By bus, taxi and private tour.