Caesarea Maritima is an ancient Roman city on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, between Haifa and Tel-Aviv. The city ruins are maintained and preserved as an Israeli national park, which is open to visitors at a minimal fee. The modern town of Caesarea is located nearby; hence, this site is distinguished as Caesarea Maritima, which means “Caesarea by the Sea.”
This beautiful ancient city was the Roman capital of the province of Judea during the time of Yeshua. This gives it biblical significance along with its amazing archeological finds.
Caesarea Maritima in the New Testament
Caesarea Maritima was built up and developed by the Roman Emperor Herod the Great around the year 1 AD. Later, Pontius Pilate—the Emperor who sentence Yeshua to death—used Caesarea as his headquarters.
The primary mentions of Caesarea in the New Testament are in the book of Acts. In Acts 8:40, after Phillip meets the Ethiopian eunuch and baptizes him, the Spirit of Lord snatched Phillip up and brought him to Azotus, where he preached the gospel until he reaches Caesarea.
In Acts 10, we see that the first Gentile to believe in the gospel lived in Caesarea. His name was Cornelius, and he was a “centurion of what was called the Italian cohort” (Acts 10:1).
In Acts 12:21-23, after putting James the brother of John to death by the sword and scheduling Peter’s death, God sends an angel of the Lord strike Herod Agrippa I because he did not give God the glory. Agrippa I was eaten by worms and died; this happened at Caesarea.
Acts 21:8-11 says that while Paul was staying at Phillip’s house in Caesarea after a missionary journey, a prophet named Agabus bound Paul’s hands and feet and foretold that he would be handed over to the Romans.
Lastly, in Acts 23:23-26:32 we learn that Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years. At this time he preached the gospel to Herod Agrippa II and nearly persuaded him to become a Christian.
Hippodrome: This is a large “U” shaped area built by Herod the Great for entertainment such as horse races and other games. It could hold up to 10,000 people!
Herod’s Palace: Just south of the Hippodrome is a Roman palace that protrudes out into the sea. In the center of the palace was a fresh water pool that was almost the size of an Olympic pool. This is potentially the palace in which Paul was imprisoned.
Roman Amphitheater: This theater is the largest and most well-preserved in Israel. It was also built by Herod the Great for the people’s entertainment. It is still used today for special performances and concerts.
Aqueduct: Caesarea Maritima didn’t have its own fresh water source. Therefore, Herod the Great built a long, impressive aqueduct to channel fresh water from the foothills of Mt. Carmel (about 16 kilometers north). ections of the aqueduct are still intact today. Visitors can travel just north of the national park to see and climb on the ancient water channel.