The City of...
Herod dedicated this historic city to Augustus Caesar over 2,000 years ago. Caesarea boasts a beautiful sea view, but its claim to fame is the archeological park that includes an amphitheater, a breathtaking harbor and ruins of a Crusader city. You can easily spend the day here, soaking up the sights and enjoying a fine meal at one of the many restaurants the world class golf course.
Caesarea sits on the Israeli coastal plain, almost midway between Tel Aviv (60 km or 36 mi south) and Haifa (40 km or 25 mi north), near the city of Hadera.
Five Great Reasons to Visit Caesarea:
• Caesarea is a town steeped in history. The port city of Caesarea Maritima was built by Herod the Great in about 25-13 BCE. It served as an administrative center of Judea Province of the Roman Empire, and later as the capital of the Byzantine Palaestina Prima province. Following the Arab conquest of the Holy Land, the city was almost abandoned until the Crusades.
Then again after the Mamluk conquest. Kibbutz Sdot Yam was established very close by in 1940, and modern day Caesarea was established a few years later near the ruins of the ancient city, today a national park.• The heralded Aqueduct Beach is sandwiched between breathtaking Mediterranean views and the incredible ancient aqueduct, marking the edge of the beach. It does get busy on summer weekends, even though bathing is not allowed, since there is no lifeguard. That said, Aqueduct Beach is worlds away from the crowded beaches of Tel Aviv and Netanya, and has the added bonus of its archeological charm.
• The prestigious Caesarea Israel Golf Club is the only international golf club in Israel. It has a meticulously groomed golf course, training ranges, a golf academy and school for children, a pro shop with a wide selection of sporting gear, and a gourmet restaurant.
• Within the national park is the Caesarea Amphitheater, also beautifully restored. During the summer months, it regularly hosts concerts of both local and international performers and ensembles.
• Caesarea is conveniently located for a visit to Zichron Yaakov, one of the first Jewish settlements of pioneers in the country. The town was founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and soars high above the Mediterranean coast, delighting all who visit and stroll down its famous 'wine road' pedestrian mall, lined with charming old stone shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
Caesarea National Park is one of the most archeological big sites of Israel. The ancient harbor, considered an engineering feat, was built by King Herod, and beautifully restored. The park is also home to the world's only underwater museum, where you can dive among shipwrecks and the remains of this ancient city.
The recreated Crusader Fortress is home to the Tower of Time. Climb to the top, and you'll enjoy a panoramic view of the harbor and the Mediterranean. Both halls in the tower are fitted with a sophisticated computer system that allows you to view the excavated city on a giant screen.
On this virtual tour, you will enter buildings, visit streets and even participate in activities such as horse racing in the hippodrome, performances in the theater and watching ships as they come into the harbor - tangible evidence of Caesarea's importance throughout the ages.
Caesarea is also home to the Ralli Museums, two of four around the world funded by philanthropist Harry Recanati. The museums are set in attractive Spanish Colonial buildings. The first exhibits 20th century art, mostly by Latin American artists, and lots of statues, some of them by Salvador Dali. The second museum is dedicated to the golden age of Spanish Jewry.
Don't miss the Caesarea Antiquities Museum, in Kibbutz Sdot Yam, with various archeological finds from the area, including an interesting coin collection, oil lamps, inscribed Jewish gravestones, artifacts found deep in the sea, and much more.
Helena is a masterchef restaurant that also happens to overlook both the sea and the ancient Roman ruins. The food is Mediterranean, with European flair, and is well worth the splurge.
Port Café is great for lighter fare, including salads, sandwiches and pastas, and as the name suggests its right in Caesarea's acclaimed port.
Hametzuda - Sushi Bar is set in an ancient building, at the most westerly point of the harbor. This is the perfect blend between harbor views, the old city and the fine. The restaurant serves a range of traditional Japanese fare, as well as original dishes such as fried wraps and salmon wrap with mozzarella.
Aresto is a newcomer to the restaurant scene in Caesarea. It is the only kosher café and resto-bar in Caesarea Port, with a rich menu based on the finest ingredients, as well as an excellent wine list.
Antik Gallery is a great place to browse and shop for jewelry, souvenirs and art object.
Old City Caesarea Gallery was founded in 1980 at the old port. Since then, it has participated in more than 100 international exhibitions all over the world, focusing on modern and contemporary Israeli art. The gallery owners will be happy to give you a tour, and assist you in finding the artwork you desire.
If you're looking for a truly unique gift or souvenir from your visit to the Holy Land, visit the Draydel House, also in the old port.
The artist uses different and unusual techniques to create draydels, menorahs, seder plates, havdallah sets, mezzuzahs and much more. Visitors are more than welcome to spin the wheel and buy some of his one-of-a-kind creations.
Tips and trips
• As this is a very special town, a car is essential, in fact, no public transportation traveling on the tourist sites.
• Dor Ranch just 10 minutes from Caesarea, offers a unique variety of horseback riding options along one of Israel's most pristine beaches. Trips vary in length from one and half hours to moonlit rides to half-day trips that also include cycling. Guides will take you through breathtaking scenery, while pointing out interesting flora and fauna. Rides are appropriate for beginners, but more advanced riders can try out the 'swimming with horse ride,' which will teach you the basics of bareback riding and then send you through water up to five feet deep.