The National Garden of Cesarea is one of the oldest and most famous in Israel. Most of the tourists to Israel come and visit it, mainly because of the important events that took place here: the apostle St. Paul was brought to trial here, and his punishment, death, was executed in Cesarea.
The excavations in Cesarea began in the early 20's, but because of the large areas, still many buildings were left unrevealed. In the last years a whole new Cesarea was discovered: the Roman city of Herodes.
In the times of the Persians (586-332 b.c.), the Phoenikians built a fortress called Srtaton Tower, in the northern part of the Crusader's Cearea. This village was conquered by Alexander (Sasha...) Yanayin the year 103b.c. and was part of the Reign of the Hashmonites. Forty years later, the Roman conqered this city, and it was given to the new king of Judaea: Herodes (ruled 37 to 4 b.c.)
Herodes, like any other would do, built a large roman-like city, and called it Cesarea, after the ceasar who helped him achieve the high post: Octavianus Augustus Ceasar. Yosefus Flavius recalls:
"He chose on the sea shore a lost city called Straton Tower, because it was a beautiful and respectable city, and built it from the beginning with white stones, and decorated it with an amazing Kings Palace, and thus demostrated his great spirit and honor." (Wars of the Jews I, 21,5)
Cesarea was a very well planned city, with a cross of streets, a large market, theatre, amphitheatre, temple and large baths. After 12 years of building, the city was completed, and great festivals took place (9-10 b.c.)
From the year 6 a.d. the Roman emperor rulled from Cesarea, and the Roman Legions arrived here and started the depression of the Great Rebellion against the Romans. One of the reasons for the rebellion was the settlement of foreigners in Cesarea, which was intended to make the jews of the city a minority.
Cesarea was the base of the Legions, and in it Aspasianus was appointed Ceasar. The city was given the status of a Colonia, and this transformed the city into the capital of "Judaea Captea" after the fall of Jerusalem, and into the most important city in Judea.
The more severe rebellion, named after it's leader - Bar-Kochva, brought the Legions back to Cesarea. It seems that in Cesarea Rabbi Akiva was tortured to death together with the other leaders of the rebellion.
In the 3rd and 4th centuries the city was populated with communities of Pagans, Sameritans, Jews and Christians, and among it's famous citizens were the "TANA" Rabbi Abehu, and the first Christian philosophers and historians Origuenes and Osbius.

What can you see ?

  • The great roman bath, with the Caldarium (hot room), Frigidarium (cold room), and Tepidarium (room temp. water)
  • The hipodrom (hipo=horse, like hipo-potamos=river horse, while potamos=river, like meso-potamia=NAHARAYIM=Entre Rios=between two rivers, and see also meso=mezzo=middle like in mezzo-soprano or mezzo-jiorno=12:00 or intermezzo=pause in middle. Philippe=phil-hipo=horse lover, while Phil=love, like in philosophy=lover of the thoughts and like philantrop=lover of mankind, philharmony=lover of harmony. In Loving Memory of the Philologist Joseph A. Rosenn).
  • Amphitheatre, which was part of the hipodrom, but was converted into the battle field of the gladiators against themselves and animals: alligators, lions, etc. This is the place in which the Sanhedrin entered one day in protest: they demanded to have freedom to worship their God. The Ceasar hid soldiers in the audience in order to cut the small rebellion. When the Sanhedrin entered the Amphitheartre the soldiers surrounded them, and threatened to kill them all, in front of all the audience. The Sanhedrin knealed and pointed at their throats saying - please kill us. The Ceasar gave up and they got what they wanted.
  • A small but important capela, with the drawings of the 12 apostoles, from the first years of Christianity. It is probably one of the oldest churches in the world, what makes it one of the most sacred places for Christians. What makes it even more sacred is the nearby court, in which the apostole St. Paul was convicted and executed.
  • Herodes Palace. Built in the most beautiful spot, the palace remained only with it's basement, but some columns were restored in order to appreciate the view.
  • Origuenes Library/Archive - to the south of the Crusader's city wall, there's a house with 7 rooms and a central one, identified by A. Negev as the famous library of Origenes of Cesarea. One of the 5 Mosaics says:

  •  "If you want not to fear from the authorities, do good, and it will benefit you" (St. Paul letter to the Romans, 13, 3).
    I Have only told about some of the Roman remains. The Crusaders left Cesarea completely renovated, specially in the northern part, inside the city walls.
    There are guided tours in Cesarea, near the theatre, every day (I think...) at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, and they're excellent.

    Have fun,

    You will be able to find the other stories, as always, at: