Caesarea Crusader Fortress
On the Mediterranean coast, about halfway between Haifa and the beach community of Netanya, lies the ancient port city of Caesarea. Due to its Roman, Byzantine and Crusader history, Caesarea is an important stop on any Christian Israel tour. Since it features so many ruins in relatively good condition, the site is a goldmine for those interested in archeology.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, Caesarea was under Crusader control, and the Crusader stronghold is among the most well-preserved in all of Israel. It is surrounded on three sides by a dry moat that measures 30 feet deep and 20 feet across. The fourth side, to the west, faces the port. During the Crusader era, the main gate to the fort was located on the eastern wall. This arched, stone gate remains in extremely good condition and is a perfect backdrop for a meaningful group photo.
Look for any of four hidden passages that connect the interior of the Crusader castle with the outside. These secret passageways allowed residents to come and go without opening the main gate.
Originally a Roman stronghold, founded by Herod in the 1st century BC, the city took its name from Augustus Caesar, Herod’s Roman patron. Caesarea was the Roman capital of Judea during the time of Jesus. The baptism of the Roman officer Cornelius, as described in the Book of Acts, occurred here. In addition, Paul departed from this coastal city and was eventually taken prisoner here before being deported to Rome for his trial, as also mentioned in the Book of Acts.
Visit King Herod’s palace from the Roman period. Look for ruins of a two-story building believed to be the home of Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Judea who demanded the crucifixion of Jesus. The ancient amphitheater is still in use today for concerts and dance performances.