Caesarea Maritima

About Caesarea Maritima

Originally an ancient Phoenician settlement (Straton’s Tower), Herod the Great began to rebuild the city and renamed it Caesarea Maritima in honour of Caesar Augustus. It became a prosperous city and subsequently, it was an important centre of early Christianity. It declined under later Byzantine and Arab rule. It was rebuilt by the Crusaders and was finally captured and razed to the grounds by the Mamluks.

Herod’s Harbour

The 40-acre harbour would accommodate 300 ships. Using revolutionary technology, Herod’s engineers constructed two huge breakwaters, lined with warehouses. At the end of the southern breakwater stood the lighthouse with its fires burning 24 hours a day. What remains of the harbour can be explored by scuba divers as they explore the Underwater Archaeological Park.

Herod’s City

Caesarea was built like a model Greco-Roman city with a forum, amphitheatre, temples, public baths, paved streets and a magnificent palace on a promontory jutting out into the waters. Herod’s hippodrome seated more than 10,000 people who would come to watch chariot races and gladiator fights.  Giant aqueducts brought fresh water from Mount Carmel to Caesarea Maritima.

Biblical History

Caesarea’s port provided a launching point for Paul to set out on his missionary journeys. He also spent two years there as a prisoner (Acts 25). Peter baptized the Roman centurion Cornelius at Caesarea (Acts 10).

Interesting Facts

  • An artifact called the “Pilate Stone” has four lines etched into it and it refers to a building that was built and dedicated by Pontius Pilate. It was a very significant find because it is the only archaeological reference to Pontius Pilate.
  • Herod’s harbour is believed to be the first artificial harbour in the world. It was built with a technique that used hydraulic concrete made from special volcanic sand that allowed the concrete to form and harden underwater.
  • Herod Agrippa I probably stayed in the palace. The walls of the promontory were made of local sandstone but plastered and painted to give the effect of finer stone like marble. The focal point was a swimming pool filled with fresh water.

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1 Vista Exchange Green #04-01 Singapore 138617

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Tel: +65 6295 5193

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Closed on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday

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