Friday, June 17, 2011

Holy Land Tour: Caesaria

A recurring theme of our tour was the blending of visits to Christian sites with visits to Roman sites with visits to sites of the history of the modern state of Israel. The second stop on our first day's tour was Caesaria, the home of Cornelius the centurion mentioned in Acts 10, and of Herod the Great's palace. Herod named the Roman town after Augustus Caesar and it was the capital city of the Israel of Roman times.

By the way, there are LOTS of Herods. Herod the Great is the one who met with the magi and ordered the slaughter of the infants after the birth of Jesus. He died about 4 BC (remember that most scholars believe Jesus was born in 6 BC).

Although we didn't see remains of Cornelius' home, the ruins of Herod's palace are extensive and very interesting. The entrance is marked by replicas of Roman statues.

The ancient amphitheater is in use today. When we visited it was being set up for big event later in the week. Imagine being at a concert in a 2,000 year old venue!

Herod's Palace (and by the way the Israelis' say "hey-ROD" not "HE-rud") included this massive FRESHWATER pool right on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. As our guide Lee pointed out, "these people may have been ancient, but they weren't primitive"! Definitely not. The engineers in the group were fascinated with the details of the palace's plumbing.

Others in the group--like me--marveled at these original mosaic tiles which once adorned the palace floors.

Herod the Great also had a large hippodrome for chariot racing. He lured the best competitors in the Roman Empire to Caesaria by offering a cash prize for second place as well as first place. This photo shows the ruins of the hippodrome and the "royal box" where Herod sat to view the races.

Herod the Great's grandson, Herod Agrippa, imprisoned Peter and ordered the execution of James. He died during a great public festival, probably while seated in this very place:
On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on the throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted "this is the voice of a god, not of a man". Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down and he was eaten by worms and died. Acts 12:21-23.


Mac said...

Another fascinating report. I have been watching "Engineering An Empire" on History Channel, and it is clear that Rome was on the cutting edge. I think the most amazing thing is that they are still using the amphitheater. I doubt that anything we build today will be in use two millenia from now. Even the late World Trade Center was envisioned as only a "thousand year building" according to ray Monti, the Port Authority's Chief Engineer. (I once deposed him for 5 days--a high point of my legal career.)

robert austell said...

Great pictures - thanks for sharing them!

Anonymous said...

This is a great account of that day. Keep 'em coming ... your notes were much better than mine!
Linda K.

Cindy J. said...

I am loving your commentary of our trip...thanks for taking me back!!

Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks, Cindy and Linda for your support! As you can tell, posting is going to take longer than traveling!!!