Caesarea: where an ancient Roman port takes on the 21st century

Caesarea Port

One of the most fascinating places you can go in Israel, if you’re willing to spread your wings a little further than Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, is Caesarea.

The well-worn phrase ancient meets modern might well have been coined for Caesarea, for as well as being the premier spot for luxurious 21st century living (and boy are there some luxurious pads in this neck of the woods – AND the fact that Israel’s only 18 hole golf course is also located here is possibly not a surprise), the Caesarea National Park has to be one of the premier archaeological attractions of the Mediterranean, complete with its ancient Herodian port and Amphitheater.

Caesarea National Park

Named after Augustus Caesar, who gifted the land to King Herod, the key architect of the remains you can see today, Caesarea is a stunning collection of antiquities. Spanning a period from 2,300 years ago to the 12th century, Caesarea’s attractions are monument to when the town was a port city and one time capital of Israel.

Bearing testament that King Herod was one of the greatest builders of the ancient world, the park includes the fully restored Caesarea Port. Acknowledged as a marvel of engineering, you can spend many a happy hour exploring the site as well as enjoying a multimedia explanation of the experience (the Travel Through Time display at the recreated fortress in the port); you can also stand on Caesarea’s paths which lead to the ancient port and think on the millions of footsteps that walked there before you, or tread castle walls imagining how frightening it must have been when the crusaders attacked.

Herod also endowed the city with temples and bathhouses but the most impressive remains today are the entertainment facilities which have also been returned to their former usage; modern Caesarea makes use of the incredibly beautiful Roman Amphitheater, which still hosts summer concerts today. Caesarea also provides a unique diving experience as you can dive through the underwater museum (call 04-6265898 for details) to view the submerged remains of this once great city.

There are some nice portside cafes that are a great place to escape for a nice snack or cold beer.

Entrance fee: To enter the park there is a fee of between 20-40 shekels (2015 prices).

Opening hours: The park is open from 09:00-18:00 through April-September (Fridays they close at 16:00). In the winter months the park closes at 16:00 (on Fridays at 15:00).

Modern Caesarea

Caesarea owes much to the Rothschild family, who gifted the land after the formation of the state in 1948. Still managed by the Rothschild Foundation, Caesarea is an area of fine, luxury contemporary homes both private and touristic. If you’re on the hunt for some very nice sleeping quarters, Caesarea is also home to the lovely Dan Caesearea, which is a just that little bit different in terms of accommodation.

In addition to the aforementioned golf course, you can also choose from plenty of restaurants around town, with additional galleries and boutiques providing some great destination shopping. The town itself also hosts the Rallis Art Museum with a focus on Latin American and Sephardic Jewish artwork.

Caesarea Beach

Absolutely one of the best expanses of shoreline on the Med, Caesarea beach (otherwise known as Aqueduct Beach, and just south of the port) is stunning, and without doubt makes our list of must-see best beaches in Israel.

Beautiful sandy beaches washed gently by the shimmering waters – and where else in the world can you bathe in view of the remains of a massive Roman Aqueduct?

The beach is kept in pristine condition and there’s a lifeguard service in high season.

How to get to Caesarea

Caesarea is just off of Road 2, which is the main coastal rode between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It’s about 30-40 minutes drive from Tel Aviv.

There is also a decent rail service that stops in Caesarea, but to get to the port and beach you’ll need a taxi (it’s only a few minutes away).

See the official Caesarea website for more details (in English).

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