The old port – Herod’s Harbor
Once the site of a Phoenician port, over the course of 12 years Herod built Caesarea (Keysarya or Caesaria) into the grandest city other than Jerusalem in Judaea, with a deep artificial sea harbour of large concrete blocks (called Sebastos, i.e., Augustus in Greek). It served as a port for Herod’s newly built city at Sebaste (Greek: Augusta), the ancient Samaria in central Israel.
Herod began to develop this insignificant site into a magnificent harbor befitting his kingdom. The harbor was built using materials and a unique technology that would allow the concrete to harden underwater. The forty-acre harbor would accommodate 300 ships, much larger than the modern harbor existing today. Herod’s plan was to create a strategic harbor to gain recognition by Rome.
This may have been the first harbour ever constructed entirely in the open sea (i.e., without the benefit of any protective fringing bay or peninsula) and was protected from the sea primarily by two huge breakwaters built of concrete blocks and filled with stone rubble. Josephus compared this spacious harbour favourably with that of Athens at Piraeus, was one of the technological marvels of the ancient world and helped make Caesarea a major port for wheat trade between the Roman breadbasket in Asia – Egypt – and Rome. Caesarea also served as a base for the Herodian navy, which operated in aid of the Romans as far as the Black Sea. What a shame it only lasted about 100 years before it sank into the Mediterranean.
Travel Through Time – Sound and Light Show at the Port of Caesarea
When you visit the site be sure to see the crowning glory of the impressive Travel Through Time display, which highlights the tour and transforms the visit into a historical trek through time. The 10-minute multimedia clip presents the city throughout the ages. This is a History lesson in a nut shell. An innovative computer simulation visually displays how the city passed from one hand to another and how the city appeared in the various ages. Nearby is a hall with 4 hologram screens that welcome visitors with 12 figures from various historical periods of the city: a personal meeting with King Herod, with Louis IX, Rabbi Akiva, Baron Rothschild, Hannah Senesh and others can be scheduled, to hear their stories and to become introduced to the events of that era. Even in the age of Internet you can enjoy this hologram demonstration.
Tower of Time
Continue to the Tower of Time display located in the recreated fortress. The view over the fishing port, still in use, from the top of the tower is good enough reason to climb to the top. “The Time Tower” overlooks Caesarea’s magical vistas, allowing guests to observe these views over history through computerized animation on a giant screen. In both Tower of Time halls, visitors can view a sophisticated computer system that allows them to view on a giant screen the ancient structures of the city that were excavated. Tourists can take a virtual tour of the city, enter buildings and visit the streets, even participate in various activities such as horse racing in the hippodrome, performances in the theater, roaming around the market booths, and receiving ships arriving at the port, all of which tangibly and powerfully indicate Caesarea’s importance throughout the ages.
Reservations: Tel.: *6550 Extension 3
The port these days
Alongside all the ruins are modern cafes, quaint restaurants, romantic corners and a sandy beach. When you sit down with a cold cup of coffee and let the breeze treat you nicely you suddenly understand what a great king Herod was. In this link you can find a list of the restaurants in the port, and some next to it: