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Caesarea Maritima Overview

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Places of Interest

Caesarea Maritima Overview




Caesarea is located on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, about 35 miles (56 km.) north of Joppa.


Historical Background


1. Caesarea was built by Herod the Great about 25 to 13 BC as the port city called “Caesarea Maritime.” It was built on the site of a Phoenician and Greek trade post known as Straton's Tower. The Phoenicians were maritime merchants of the ancient world. 


2. It was named after the Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar. Augustus Caesar was the first Roman Emperor to declare himself a god and demand to be worshiped. A temple was built here to honor and worship Caesar Augustus as a god. 

Interestingly, Christ was born in this time period and was viewed as a competing God.


3. King Herod the Great was the one who had all the children 2 years and younger slaughtered in Bethlehem in his attempt to kill Christ. He was a jealous king who feared losing his power and control.


4. King Herod built Caesarea out of nothing and was a master builder. Some of his major building projects included:

  • This seaport of Caesarea

  • An enlarged Temple Mount platform and temple in Jerusalem.

  • Masada

  • The Herodian by Bethlehem

  • Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron

  • Palace in Jericho


5. He was known for his building ventures, and no one equaled him in this respect.


6. Caesarea was the largest seaport in the Roman Empire during the time of Herod. 


7. Caesarea was the capital of Israel during the time of Christ and the whole Roman occupation of Israel. 

8. Herod had architects that were the best in the world, even better than those of the Roman Empire.

9. During the Byzantine period, Caesarea became an important Christian center. During this period, the Byzantines built a church over the ruins of the temple built to worship Augustus Caesar.

10. The remains of a 5th-century synagogue found on the seashore north of the harbor have also been discovered. The rectangular building faces south towards Jerusalem. Architectural details were found in its ruins, including capitals with a carved menorah, a column inscribed with the name shalom, and parts of a Hebrew inscription listing the twenty-four priestly courses in the Temple in Jerusalem.


11. The Church Father Origen founded a Christian academy in the city, which included a library of 30,000 manuscripts. At the beginning of the 4th century, the theologian Eusebius, who served as Bishop of Caesarea, composed here his monumental Historia Ecclesiastica on the beginnings of Christianity and the Onomasticon, a comprehensive geographical-historical study of the Holy Land.


Places of Interest (Please See Maps Above)


1. Crusader Fortress Entrance

2. Crusader Fortress

3. Temple to Caesar Augustus

4. Byzantine Church Built Over the Temple to Augustus Caesar

5. 5th Century Synagogue

6. Caesarea Harbor

7. Caesarea Historic Port

8. Governor's Palace

9. Mosaic Hall

10. Hippodrome

11. Roman Toilet

12. Submerged Garden Castle

13. Paul Appeals to Caesar

14. Pontius Pilate Stone

15. Promontory Palace

16. Caesarea Columns

17. Roman Theater


Caesarea in the Bible


1. After the Apostle Paul received Christ, he was sent to Tarsus from this seaport.

Acts 9:30: And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.


2. Cornelius, the first Gentile to receive the Holy Spirit, lived here.

Acts 10:1–8: At Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.


3. Caesarea was the place where the Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles.

Acts 10:44–48: While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.


4. King Herod Agrippa the 1st, the son of Herod the Great, met his death in Caesarea.

Acts 12:21–24: On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. 24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.

5. Philip the Evangelist lived in Caesarea.

Acts 21:8: On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.


6. The Apostle Paul sailed to and from Caesarea on his missionary travels.

Acts 21:7–8: When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the next day, we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.


7. The Apostle Paul stood trial here for his faith.

Acts 23:33–35: When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, "I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive." And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod's Praetorium.


8. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned here for 2 years because of his faith.

Acts 24:27: When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

It’s possible that Paul wrote some of the Prison Epistles in Caesarea during the 2 years he spent here in prison.


9. After spending 2 years of imprisonment in Caesarea, the Apostle Paul sailed from Caesarea to Rome, where he stood trial for his faith.

Acts 25:8, 11: Paul argued in his defense, "Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense. Paul then declares, in verse 11 “I appeal to Caesar.”

10. It was one of the key places from which the gospel would be taken to the whole world.

Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.

Faith Lesson from Caesarea


1. The Holy Spirit was given to the Gentiles here. This shows that God loves all people from all races and backgrounds and wants them to be saved.


2. Paul spent 2 years in prison here because of his faithfulness to Christ. It’s possible he wrote some of the Prison Letters while here. We, too, should be willing to suffer like Paul for the gospel's advancement.


3. God opposes the proud and caused King Herod Agrippa the 1st, the son of Herod the Great, to meet his death here because of his arrogance. We should be certain we always give God the glory for what He does through us and avoid pride in our lives.

4. It's very likely that early Christians were martyred in the hippodrome here for their faith. What price are we willing to pay for our faith in Christ?



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