Caesarea, Israel (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
Caesarea, Israel (Shutterstock)

The combination of ancient sites and modern amenities landed Caesarea a spot on a prestigious list of top vacation spots.

By Tsivya Fox

Israel’s centrally-located city of Caesarea made Travel + Leisure magazine’s list of “50 Best Places to Travel in 2020.”

Travel + Leisure is one of the top travel publications in the world and enjoys a readership of 4.8 million. Among the factors that helped land destinations on the best vacation list were tourism statistics, existence of major events, flight routes, hotel debuts, Instagram posts and opinions of travel experts and industry pros, according to the magazine.

The 50 locations were listed in alphabetical order, so Caesarea ended up at 12 on the list. The magazine described the city as a “happy marriage of antiquity and modernity.”

“The new King Herod Visitor’s Center, named for the port’s founding monarch and built in the massive arched vaults that once stood beneath a temple, displays recent archaeological finds, such as colorful mosaics and gold coins recovered from shipwrecks,” the magazine noted.

The city’s Helena Restaurant is described as “a seaside fine-dining spot that features locally foraged ingredients and Israeli wines.”

The magazine also recommends touring the ancient bathhouses as well as snorkeling and scuba diving around submerged Roman breakwaters, columns, and cargo at the Old Caesarea Diving Center.

“Caesarea is one of my favorite places to bring tourists,” Avi Dobuler, an American-born, veteran tour guide for Israel, told United With Israel. “It offers fascinating archaeology and historical sites as well as museums, nice family hikes, water activities and the only golf course in the country.”

Caesarea vs. Jerusalem

Caesarea’s tradition in Jewish culture dates back to the Talmud, which includes the following passage, “Caesarea and Jerusalem, if someone says to you, ‘They were both destroyed’ – don’t believe. If he says, ‘They are both built’ – don’t believe. If he says, ‘One was destroyed and the other is built’ – believe.”

This statement reflects the historic differences between these two cities. While Jerusalem is home to the Jewish people’s holiest site in the world, the Temple Mount, Caesarea was built by Herod for the Romans to show his acceptance and promotion of Roman culture. The ancient Temples in Jerusalem were places to worship the one true God, while Caesarea was filled with idol worship. Jerusalem was a holy city, while Caesarea was developed for trade and leisure.

“King Herod rebuilt Jerusalem after it was destroyed and built Caesarea as a cosmopolitan Roman city,” explained Dobuler to United With Israel. “He wasn’t comfortable with the holiness of Jerusalem. After all, one cannot serve idols at the same time one serves a single God in holiness. So, Herod established Caesarea 2,000 years ago as a port city, a place of trade and entertainment, with an impressive Roman amphitheater and his own palace.”

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