Last Sat. we set out to do some sightseeing with Roy’s parents. Caesarea is a national park holding archeological sites that is south of Haifa along the coast. On our way we had to drive through a plume of smoke from the wildfire near Atlit that was blowing west out to sea. After we were through it, we realized that it didn’t extend as far south as where we were going, so we continued on.

Caesarea started as a Phoenician settlement in 568 BCE and changed hands 7 more times until the late 19th c. when Ottoman authorities settled Bosnian refugees here. The park contains the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, which was built during King Herod’s rule of the city (30-4 BCE) and is the oldest theater in Israel. The park also contains the remains of a hippodrome that used to hold chariot races, public bathhouses, planned city streets from Roman and Byzantine times, and the city wall and moat from Crusader times. Fun fact: since the city was where the opposition to the Bar Kochva revolt was headquartered, it is likely that Caesarea was where the Jewish leaders led by Rabbi Akiva were tortured to death. We saw a pretty good CGI film that showed what the city probably looked like during different periods. Archaeological exploration of the site began in 1873 and continues until today.

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