Located on the coast, Caesaria was initially a small Phoenician trading post called Straton’s tower. In 25 B.C., Herod the Great built an artificial harbour and a “king size” city.
This port city of Caesaria, named in honour of Augustus, was designed to link the pagan Decapolis with Rime and serve as a counterweight to Jerusalem’s port of Jaffa. After Herod’s death, Caesaria became the seat of the Roman government in Judea; Pontius Pilate resided here during his terms as procurator.
A bitter dispute between the local pagan and Jewish populations led to heightened Jewish resentment of Rome. With the outbreak of the Jewish revolt, Vespasian was proclaimed emperor here. Phillip the Deacon evangelized here (Acts 8:40) and Paul was imprisoned here (Acts 23:23). The seat of government during Byzantine times, Caesaria had a population of 200,000.
One famous inhabitant was Eusebeus, the first historian of the church. Caesaria fell in 640 to the Arabs, but was retaken and fortified by the Crusaders and finally destroyed by Beybars in 1921. It is now a very popular tourist site with a fine beach, restaurant, art galleries and excavations.