From 20th-22nd of March, Israel is going to host the first TBEX International conference in its capital, Jerusalem.
Many bloggers including myself, will be attending TBEX Jerusalem and many of us will be arriving early\staying late, in order to soak up all that Israel has to offer.
Israel is a tiny country, but the amount of experiences it can offer to visitors is vast.
Recently, I’ve decided that I need to spend time at home and I don’t have any international trips coming up, so I’ve been making more of an effort to feel like a traveller in my own country.
And a while ago, I had the pleasure of rediscovering an interesting, hidden gem in Israel, that often gets overlooked by visitors.
And that beautiful gem is Caesaria.
Specifically, the old city of Caesaria.
What is Caesaria
Caesaria (pronounced: Kay-sah-ri-ah) is a small, coastal town located halfway between the major cities Tel Aviv and Haifa, about 45 kilometres each way.
With a rich history that dates back to 13 BCE (!), it was first built by Herold the Great as a port city named Caesaria Maritima.
Over the course of the next 2000 years, the city has been inhabited by Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze and has stuck around through the Roman era, the Middle Ages, the Ottoman Period and the British Mandate, having survived many transitions and undergone many transformations.
It is now a small town populated by over 4500 people and is often referred to as “Modern Caesaria”.
Despite it’s status as a small, modern town, the remains of its rich and lengthy past have been very well-preserved (as Caesaria Harbour National Park) and are still extremely evident and clear. It’s no mistake when you’re there, that Caesaria was once an ancient port city.
What can you do in Caesaria?
Well, there’s quite a bit to see and experience in Caesaria and you can easily spend the whole day there.
You first arrive at the entrance of Caesaria Harbour National Park so that the viewing of Old Caesaria can begin. You can opt to follow a guided tour to hear all the substantial explanations and details. Or you can wander off and take a look around at your own pace, reading the many informative signs that you’ll come across if you want.
As soon as you enter inside, the preserved foundations of this ancient city are very clear.
You see the remains of the old public buildings and learn about how civilisation functioned back in those days. Right outside of this structure, you see some architectural fragments of Old Caesaria’s city wall. These wall fragments date back to the Roman-Byzantine period, over 2000 years ago. You also learn about what happened to the port town during the Middle Ages, when the size of the town decreased, increased and changed hands many different times.
Caesaria is a great place to learn about the ancient history of the land from an architectural point of view.
But that’s not the only thing you can do there.
The Caesaria Harbour National Park also houses the Time Trek Display, a multi-media cinematic experience that takes you through the whole history of the old port town with reenactments and animations to help tell the story better.
And there is also an ampitheatre in the park where a live performance depicts what life was like in the old port town. Actors, costumes, props, kids and horses are all part of the mix. And don’t worry, I asked my mum (who was a vet) whether the horses looked like they were well cared for and she assured me that they did.
To top it all off, there are also areas to lounge and enjoy a picnic in, restaurants & cafes to sit at, art galleries & souvenirs shops to browse and gorgeous views of the sea to take in. This park is meant to be visited for a day trip after all and is very accommodating for visitors and their needs.
Why go to Caesaria
Due to it’s relative close proximity to Tel Aviv and Haifa, Caesaria is perfect for a day trip, especially from one of these major cities. Israel and the Middle East region in particular is famous for having an extensive history, but Caesaria offers a taste of history that is rarely known about.
There is a lot to see and experience and it’s very much worth the visit. It’s a great window to see what life was like in Ancient Israel and to get a better idea of how much history there actually is in this country.
To get there from Tel Aviv, it will take about 45 mins by car going north up Kveesh 2 (Road 2). You can find directions here.
To get there from Haifa, it will take about 30 mins by car going south on Kveesh 2. You can find directions here.
Have you ever been to Caesaria and if you have, how was your experience? Will you be putting this old port town on your Israel itinerary? Feel free to comment below!
Be Brave & Be Kind,