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The Second Coming: Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Via Poland and Gemany

Summer 2008

Israel flag Israel: Caesarea Maritima Israel flag

The Crusader fortress at one of the entrances of Caesarea, overlooking the vaulted Crusader Street We made a day-trip by train to Caesarea Maritima from Tel Aviv.

Caesarea Maritima is a quite easy day trip, although the train station is far from the archaeological site. We went by bus but had to get back by taxi from the ruins to the station.
The Ruins of Caesarea, Israel When boarding a train in Israel you are required to show your passport to get inside the station.
Be ready for a few quick but annoying questions if you have a stamp from another Middle Eastern country.
The man in Tel Aviv was quite rude and asked me why I have been to Egypt, Oman and Dubai and what I did there.
I looked into his eyes and answered “I did the same thing I’m doing here: visiting”.
Mosaics in Caesarea, Israel When coming back, no questions were asked at the Caesarea train station, so it really depends on the mood of the guard.
Caesarea's ancient hippodrome Caesarea started as a Phoenician harbour in the 4th Century BC.

Ancient Greeks called it Pyrgos Stratonos or Strato Tower, Strato being the name of three kings of Sidon.

Caesarea Maritima changed hands a few times, from the Persians to the Hasmoneans and finally the Romans.
Hippodrome in Caesarea, Israel Herod renamed the city Caesarea.
He built a palace and the main harbor of the region.

In 13 BC Caesarea became the capital of Judea and the residence of Roman Governors, including Pontius Pilatus.
The Jewish community was denied Roman citizenship.
One of the causes of the First Jewish Revolt, from 66 to 70, was the massacre of Jews in Caesarea and the desecration of the synagogue.
The Amphitheater in Caesarea is still in use Emperor Titus later condemned 2,500 Jews to gladiatorial fights in Caesarea's amphitheatre.
Caesarea's amphiteatre is still in use, but today's performances are of course less bloody.

After the Second Jewish revolt (132-135) Jews were forbidden to live in Jerusalem and many settled in Caesarea.
Amphitheater in Caesarea The city also became an important center for Christianity from the 1st Century. St Paul, St Peter and St Phillip were all there at some point of their lives.

The city continued to grow and be prosperous in the Byzantine period.

In the 7th Century the Persians captured the city and by 638 the Muslims arrived.
A Fatimid town grew prosperous, but little remains from that era.

In the 12th Century Baldwin I captured Caesarea during the First Crusade. It’s said that the Holy Grail was discovered there but of course there’s no evidence of that.
The Crusaders fortified the city and created the Archbishop of Caesarea.
Colums by the Sea, Caesarea, Israel Saladin took the city in 1187; the crusaders took it again in 1191. Finally in 1265 the Crusaders lost the city to the Mamluks.
Sultan Baybars made sure this was the last battle and razed the city.

Caesarea became a small village and some stones from its ruins were used on the reconstruction of cities like Jaffa and Jezzar Pasha in Akko.
The Bosnian Mosque in Caesarea, Israel The city remained in ruins until 1884, when Muslim immigrants from Bosnia fleeing the Russians settled in Qisarya.

They built a fishing village around the Crusader fortress, which was reconstructed and became their administrative center.

The Bosnian Mosque on the picture dates from this era.

Most Bosnians left before 1948 when the railway bypassing the port was built.
The Beach at Caesarea National Park The tourist area of Caesarea is very cleverly made.
It fully integrates the ancient ruins with the tourist services (restaurants, beach, shops…).

It is great example on how to improve an ancient cultural site: Not only make the tourists come, but also making them stay for the whole day and more.