On the main road from Tyre to Egypt. About 20 B.C., King Herod the Great built it into a magnificent city employing the best of the Roman architects. A priority was the excellent deep water port with protective water breaks, etc. He chose the name Caesarea to please his friend Augusts Caesar. It was “the place to be” for Romans during the occupation of Israel. The ocean moderated the harsh climate, good water was provided via an impressive Roman aqueduct, also built by Herod, as was a coliseum for gladiators and an hypodrome for chariot racing. Caesarea was also the site of some of the most horrific crusader battles with the Muslims. The moat and some ruins of what was once a huge Crusader fortress still remain.
Paul the Apostle was a prisoner here for two years awaiting his right to go to Rome to be tried by Caesar for supposed crimes charged by the Jewish priests. They would have tried and executed him in Jerusalem but Paul was a Roman citizen and was able to insist on being tried in Rome, thus saving his life. Cornelius lived here too as did Phillip, one of the apostles.
Caesarea’s incredible harbor was reportedly one of the most modern in its day, but the entire place had the misfortune of being built atop two geological fault lines. An earthquake sank the entire structure some time before the 3rd century AD. After centuries of being sacked by various invaders, Caesarea was left abandoned until the mid 1940s when archaeologists moved in and began digging. The results are a magnificent collection of preserved ruins from both the Crusader and early Roman eras.