Touring Israel’s Top 3 Historic Ports
In addition to the operational ports that are bustling with international shipping, Israel is home to some scenic historically significant ports, which played an important role in trade in antiquity. Several have been re-purposed as lovely recreation areas. Make sure that at least one of these three especially gripping and scenic old ports is included in your Israel trip itinerary.
Herod’s Port at Caesarea
As its name suggests, Caesarea was a bustling city during the Roman period. It was built by Herod the Great and named for the Roman Emperor Augustus. As part of the city’s construction, Herod built a deep-sea harbor at Caesarea, which operated through the Byzantine period. The port cemented Caesarea’s position as a center of international trade.
Today, this port is ensconced in the Caesarea National Park, along with the impressive Hippodrome, aqueducts, bathhouses and a palace. Walk along the port’s promenade and enjoy the view of archaeological excavations on one side and the blue of the Mediterranean Sea on the other. Upscale cafes and restaurants line the main thoroughfare.
One of the World’s Most Ancient Ports in Jaffa
The port in Jaffa was famous in biblical times and was mentioned in the Book of Jonah, as well as in Josephus and other ancient works. The port has functioned almost continuously from the Canaanite period until contemporary times. For centuries, Jaffa was a central port city in the Middle East, serving fishermen, merchants, crusaders and immigrants. The port still serves the fishermen population, a diverse mix of Jews and Arabs.
The promenade along the port features ancient buildings, art galleries, elegant homes and small fishing boats. You can walk from Old Jaffa into the modern section and visit one of the free beaches along the promenade. If you have a lot of stamina, you can walk all the way to the Tel Aviv Port.
Early 20th Century Port at Tel Aviv
When the modern city of Tel Aviv began to develop a century ago, it was decided that the new city needed its own port. The shipping and transport hub was first planned in 1913 but wasn't actively used for another 16 years. Meanwhile, the Arab Revolt and its accompanying strike led to a six-month closure of the Jaffa Port, which led the Jewish residents of the city to put pressure on the British Mandate authorities to allow the construction of Tel Aviv Port. This port was the only one under Zionist administration, so it played an important role in the smuggling of weapons prior to and during the War of Independence.
Eventually, the Israeli government constructed a new port in Ashdod and the Tel Aviv Port was closed down. Today it is a refurbished attraction for tourists and locals, with shops, cafes and restaurants lining a picturesque boardwalk.