Caesarea Maritima

Caesarea Maritima ("by the Sea") is one of the most important cities in the Roman World, and a Crusader fortress along the road from Acre to Jerusalem. 



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Pontius Pilate



Aerial views




   Caesarea Maritima ("by the Sea") is located on the shore in the center of Israel,  in the middle between Haifa and Tel-Aviv. It is the site of one of the most important cities in the Roman World, the Roman capital of the province of Judea at the time of Jesus, and a Crusader fortress along the road from Acre to Jerusalem.  Today, Caesarea is a large and interesting national park which and  a mandatory place to visit while exploring the Holy Land.


History of the place:


   Initially, Caesarea  was a Phoenician site in the Persian period (6 to 3rd C BC). The Phoenicians, the maritime merchants of the ancient world, used the natural bays and the nearby rivers in order to establish a port, one of many ports that they  set up along the shore stretching from Tyre down to Gaza. The city flourished at the Greek period. Later, in the Roman period, King Herod created it into one of the largest cities in the Roman World, and called it after his patron, Augustus Caesar.  Its new deep sea harbor was constructed at 22BC and became the largest marine port in the Holy Land. The site was an important Roman city, and played an important role in the history of Ancient Israel. It later decayed after the Arab conquest, and returned to glory with the Crusaders. After their retreat the city was left in ruins, and its stones were reused in buildings throughout the region.





General View:


   The following photo shows the Roman city in the foreground (Herod's palace). In the background:  the Crusader's city, Ottoman mosque and buildings, and the ancient port just behind them. The Roman city is on the right side, although not seen in this photo.


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A large Roman theater, built by Herod, is still in use today for  concerts and shows. In addition to this theater, Herod also built a Hippodrome and an additional amphitheater for the pleasure of the citizens. 


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  The Roman city was a major sea port, which included large warehouses to store the goods, and a large harbor that was built by Herod. In the photo below - the vast warehouses. In the left background - the place of the ancient harbor.


In the left background, the remains of the two-level building which was the Governor's house. This was probably Pontius Pilate's house.






One of the famous sites in Caesarea is the Aqueduct (click on the link to get more details on this). It is also a popular beach.





Pontius Pilate in Caesarea:


The Hippodrome:


A grand entertainment place was built by Herod near his palace - a large Hippodrome in the shape of a long  "U" (50 X 250M), with 10,000 seats  in 12 rows.  In this amphitheater the Romans conducted horse race (Hippo in Greek), special events, and games. As can be seen in the photo below, the seats were organized around a large arena. On the left  side is the remains of the the central stage where the rulers and most distinguished guests watched the games.


The Roman-Jewish historian Josephus Flavius tells about a famous event that happened in this site. It was between Pontius Pilate (the 5th procurator of Judea who ordered Jesus crucifixion; AD 26-36) and Jewish citizens from Jerusalem, who were offended by his acts of placing the military signa (flags) of Tiberius in Jerusalem. They conducted a sitting protest at his house for 5 days in order to remove the flags. On the 6th day he collected them in this site and threatened to kill them unless they accept the display of the Caesar's military signs  (Wars Book 2, Chapter 9: 3), as follows: "On the next day Pilate sat upon his tribunal, in the large Stadium..."). Eventually, Pilate backed up and removed the signa to diffuse the explosive situation.



Stone Tablet:


Near the amphitheater, a stone tablet was found with an inscription of the name Pontius Pilate, and dedicated to Tiberius Caesar who nominated him as procurator.  This tablet probably tells that Pilate consecrated a temple of Tiberius in Caesarea.


The tablet says: "Tiberieum, Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea".

              (1) TIBERIEUM,,

             (2) (PON) TIUS    PILATUS

             (3)  (PRAEF) ECTUS IUDA (EAE)

This is an important evidence of the existence of Pontius in Caesarea.


                        (Photo by Amir Porat - who spent an hour locating the stone after its relocation)




Mosaic Floor: Kalokeria


When you enter Israel via Ben-Gurion airport, there are 3 mosaic floors displayed on the entrance to the border patrol booths. The lower right one is from Caesarea, and is seen below. The 6th C AD  mosaic floor is decorated with animals, geometric shapes, animals and trees, and in the center a woman holding a fruit basket. Her Greek name, Kalokeria, is inscribed around the figure and suggests prosperity. This is the spirit of the city: fruitful, large, plentiful, a good city.




Biblical References:


Acts (25: 11-14, 23) - Paul appeals to Caesar


In 58AD the Apostle Paul, accused of causing a riot, was sent to Caesarea to stand trial before the governor. As a Roman citizen he requested to be heard by the Emperor , and so he sailed to Rome from Caesarea harbor. There, he was tried and executed after several years.



25:11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

25:13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

25:14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:

25:15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.


25:23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth.


26:32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.



The "place of hearing", where this all happened,  is located near Herod' palace, as seen in the following photo.




Aerial Views:


These photos are part of a collection of  aerial images of BibleWalks's partner. For purchasing details, visit our shop.


In the first aerial photo you can see the western layout of the city, with Herod's theater on the bottom side, Herod's palace on the left side, the Hippodrome and the Roman city in the center, and the Crusaders and port on the top side.



In the next photo you can see the large Roman theater, built by Herod, on the right side. Herod's palace in the front center, and the Hippodrome on the left side.




The aerial photo below was captured north to the previous photo, and shows the Roman city on the right side, and the crusaders city and the ancient port on the center.




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