Capital of Palestine for almost 600 years, later a Crusader port, Caesarea was renowned for the splendor of its buildings. Three of its columns are now in Venice, and its most beautiful stones adorn the C18 AD structures of Jezzar Pasha in Akko. None the less, recent excavations and careful restorations enable the visitor to recapture the highpoints of its colorful history.
The city was founded by Herod the Great (37-4 BC) on the site of an ancient fortified town known as Strato’s Tower. Strato is the Greek form of a name borne by three kings of Sidon in the C4BC, and a century earlier in gratitude for the assistance of the Sidonian fleet in the invasion of Greece, the Persians had granted the coast between DOR and Yafo (Jaffa) to Sidon. The anchorage served traders plying between Phoenicia and Egypt: it is first mentioned by Zenon, an Egyptian official, who landed there for supplies in 259 BC. The town changed hands many times before the emperor Augustus gave it to Herod in 30 BC.
The remains still visible of the Herodian rampart, of the port, the amphitheater, and the hippodrome reveal the sumptuousness of Herod’s city.