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Caesarea Maritima


Ruins at Caesarea Maritima

A covered arcade lined with shops that ran parallel to the seashore, just north of the hippodrome at Caesarea Maritima.

Ian W Scott

The impressive Mediterranean seaport city of Caesarea (Maritima) was named in honor of the emperor Augustus by Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.) who was given the Palestinian site in 30 B.C. In 12 years, starting in c. 22 B.C., Herod built the city like a Greco-Roman one, laid-out on a grid with typical amenities, aqueducts, forum, theater, amphitheater, temples, baths, and paved streets. Its harbor was bigger than Athens'. Herod also installed a system of breakwaters, bronze statues to mark dangerous spots like sandbars, and a 24-hour a day fire-lit lighthouse that mitigated the dangers from currents.

Caesarea Maritima was known simply as Caesarea. It was located about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem. When Judaea became a province of the Roman Empire in A.D. 6, Caesarea Maritima became its capital, so Roman Legions headquartered there, as did the prefect Pontius Pilate.

Earlier Caesarea Maritima had been a Phoenician trading post known as Strato's Tower (Stratonospyrgos).

Caesarea became an important city not only for trade, but for the early Church. Among other notables, Eusebius was archbishop of Caesarea Maritima from A.D. 315-318.

Caesarea References:

Also Known As: Caesarea, Caesarea Palaestina
Alternate Spellings: Cesarea

Josephus has much to say about Herod's building of the city of Caesarea Maritima, for instance:

"Now upon his observation of a place near the sea, which was very proper for containing a city, and was before called Strato's Tower, he set about getting a plan for a magnificent city there, and erected many edifices with great diligence all over it, and this of white stone. He also adorned it with most sumptuous palaces and large edifices for containing the people; and what was the greatest and most laborious work of all, he adorned it with a haven, that was always free from the waves of the sea."

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