Magnificent Roman Ruins – The New Indian Express

Express Message Service

As waves smash against the rocks, the Mediterranean Sea seems to squirm and smoke; but the wildness pales in comparison to the splendor of the hippodrome that stretches along its shores in Caesarea, Israel’s port city that was once the administrative center of the mighty Roman Empire’s Judea province.
The structure is in ruins. The stone steps where people once sat and watched races are all but destroyed, but there is enough to suggest their past glory. The classic Roman-style building, rectangular but ending in a semicircle on one side, is striking for its sheer size. Special enclosures for dignitaries and arched doors for horse entry are still intact.

The hippodrome is notable for its enormous size

Caesarea was conquered more than 2,000 years ago by Herod the Great, a Roman vassal king between 22 and 10 BC. built. When granted land on a small promontory jutting out into the sea, Herod first built his palace—a magnificent structure. The only remains of it are a few broken pillars. The remains of a swimming pool carved into the rocky slope that stretches down to the sea and looks like an old-fashioned infinity pool bear witness to Herod’s good life.

There are amazing structures, the remains of which indicate Caesarea’s position as an important, bustling city – a strong port and harbour, a fabulous theatre, Roman temples, churches, other religious buildings, a Roman aqueduct, bathhouses, banks and vaults.

The Roman influence is strong. Herod reinforced against the Romans in other places like Masada, but on the Mediterranean coast he was evidently grateful. So much so that he named the city after his patron Augustus Caesar.


As you walk around, you realize that Caesarea was once an incredibly prosperous port. It even became the capital of Judea and later the Byzantine Empire. But it had a turbulent history from Arab rule to the Crusades. It also flourished a bit during the Ottoman period, but by the 18th century it became a nondescript fishing village and then fell into complete oblivion until it was excavated in the mid-20th century.

Oddly enough, despite the long and tumultuous history, there is so much that has survived the test of time. First up is the theater – semi-circular, with fabulous acoustics, which is now used for performances and rock concerts. Elsewhere there are beautiful mosaic patterns on the floor of the vaults, although the vaults themselves are almost completely destroyed. The governor’s baths are impressive. From the arches and passageways that are still intact, one can only guess how complex the ritual must have been.

To captivate tourists, a dramatized short film, The Caesarea Experience, is screened prior to the visit. It chronicles the history and life of Caesarea and renders it in larger than life characters. But once you leave town, the characters and events seem almost plausible, and you half-expect to be interrupted by thundering hooves or encountering formidable characters in regalia. It is thanks to the grandeur and size of the ruins that such a feeling is evoked.

theater times

One of the structures in Caesarea that has remained intact despite the country’s long and turbulent history is the Roman Theater. Semi-circular in shape with fabulous acoustics, it currently hosts concerts by major Israeli and international artists such as Shlomo Artzi, Yehudit Ravitz, Mashina, Deep Purple and Björk.

fact file

Caesarea is located on the Mediterranean coast in Israel, about 55 km north of Tel Aviv. Arrival: fly
to Tel Aviv. Then take a bus or taxi to Caesarea.

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker