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1 - Remains of an ancient building in Caesarea (27 Kb) 2 - The Crusader city of Caesarea: near the gate (30 Kb) A small port city on the Mediterranean coast was rebuilt by King Herod, who renamed it Caesarea in honor of the Roman emperor. In 6 A.D., Caesarea became the capital of the Roman province of Judea. The city continued to flourish under Byzantine rule. In early 12th century, Caesarea was conquerred by the Crusaders; later the city was captured by Mameluk sultan Baybars and destroyed.

Now Caesarea is a large archaeological site, with remains from Roman, Byzantine and Crusader periods.

Although parts of Roman pillars are seen here and there, the remains of the city's Roman buildings were mostly used for construction in other towns. The ancient harbour is now several meters below the sea level. Nevertheless, there is a well-preserved Roman aqueduct, north to the city; in the southern part of the city, there is a restored Roman theatre, one of the largest of its kind in Israel. In the summer, concerts and other performances are held here. One can also find the ruins of Roman amphitheatre and hippodrome. 3,4 - Caesarea: The Roman theatre (56 Kb) 3,4 - Caesarea: The Roman theatre (56 Kb)

The remains of residences from the Byzantine period, some with mosaic floors, are what you meet across the site. Byzantine street was discovered and unearthed in a grove near the Crusader walls; in the street you can see two impressive headless Roman statues, one of white marble and one of red porphyry.

The Crusader city was fortified in the 13rd century; the thick city walls and the Crusader gate are preserved until today. To enter the crusader city, we had to walk over a drawbridge and to turn around two corners inside the gate (such a design of the gate was a simple attack-preventing measure). Remains of some Crusader buildings are inside the walls, as well as bits of ancient glass and pottery, etc.

Besides the archaeological sites, Caesaria also hosts Ralli Museum of modern art. Harry Recanati founded four such museums, two in South America, one in Israel, and one in Spain. The museums are based on the founder's private collection. Caesarea's Ralli museum has a collection of 20th century art, mostly by Latin American artists; sculpture includes several works of Salvador Dali. A small archaeological wing of the museum contains various findings from the area, and a copy of a plate mentioning Pontius Pilatus, the Roman prefect of Caesarea (discovered in 1961). Besides that, there is a temporary exhibition of arts. A visit to the museum can take several hours, admission is free, picture taking permitted.

5 - Byzantine street (35 Kb) 6 - Ralli museum in Caesarea: S. Dali's sculpture (18 Kb)

(links to larger pictures)

Design: Olga Maleva & Yuri Bazlov.