5 Impressive Remains in the City that Herod Built
Many people recognize the name of Herod the Great because of his role in ordering the killing of all of the baby boys under age two at the time of Jesus’s birth (not great). However, he was also known as a building genius as evidenced by his many building programs (great) including the Second Temple in Jerusalem, Masada, Herodium, and Caesarea Maritima.
Caesarea Maritima (“by the sea”) is the city that Herod built, which he named in honor of Caesar Augustus, between 22-10 BC near the site of a former Phoenician naval station. These five impressive remains of the ancient city provide a glimpse of the majesty of the city as it was in the days of Herod.
The magnificent harbor that Herod built consisted of 40 acres and could accommodate 300 ships! A sight no doubt meant to impress anyone approaching the city by sea.
With seats made of stone, Herod’s theater could seat between 3,500 and 4,000 people. (After sitting on the stone benches for just a few minutes, one has to wonder if this was one of the first places where someone came up with the idea of stadium seat cushions.)
Inside the theater is a replica of a unique archaeological find—the only item discovered to date which mentions the name of Pontius Pilate.
Herod’s palace of course had to be majestic! The Roman historian Josephus called Herod’s palace a “most magnificent palace.” Included in the center of the palace was a nearly Olympic-sized pool.
Imagine this beautiful city by the sea...water as far as the eye can see, but no fresh water! So, in order to bring fresh water to his new city, Herod built an aqueduct which carried fresh water from Mt. Carmel to Caesarea Maritima (approximately 10 miles!). The arches of the aqueduct provide some really cool photo opportunities too.
What Roman city would be complete without somewhere for the games to be held? Herod’s hippodrome seated more than 20,000 people who would come to watch chariot races, gladiator fights, animal performances, and other events.