Caesarea (Hebrew: קֵיסָרְיָה, Kaysariya or Qesarya;
Arabic: قيسارية, Qaysaria; Greek: Καισάρεια;
/ˌsɛzəˈriːə, ˌsɛsəˈriːə, ˌsiːzəˈriːə/) is a town
in north-central Israel. Located midway between
Tel Aviv and
the coastal plain near the city of Hadera, it falls under the
jurisdiction of Hof HaCarmel Regional Council. With a population of
4,970, it is the only Israeli locality managed by a private
Caesarea Development Corporation, and also one of
the most populous localities not recognized as a local council.
The town was built by
Herod the Great
Herod the Great about 25–13 BCE as the port
Caesarea Maritima. It served as an administrative center of
Judaea Province of the Roman Empire, and later the capital of the
Palaestina Prima province during the classic period.
Muslim conquest in the 7th century, in which it was the
last city to fall to the Arabs, the city had an Arab majority until
Crusader conquest. It was abandoned after the
Mamluk conquest. It
was re-populated in 1884 by
Bosniak immigrants, who settled in a small
fishing village. In 1940, kibbutz
Sdot Yam was established next to
the village. In February 1948 the village was conquered by a Palmach
unit commanded by Yitzhak Rabin, its people already having fled
following an attack by the Lehi. In 1952, a Jewish town of Caesarea
was established near the ruins of the old city, which were made into
the national park of
1.2 Middle Ages
1.3 Ottoman period
1.4 British Mandate of Palestine
1.5 State of Israel
2.1 Archaeology of Caesarea
8 Notable residents
11 External links
Caesarea Maritima was built during c. 20–10 BCE near the ruins of a
small naval station known as Stratonos pyrgos (Straton's Tower),
Straton I of Sidon. It was likely an agricultural
storehouse station in its earliest configuration. In 90 BCE,
Alexander Jannaeus captured Straton's Tower as part of his policy of
developing the shipbuilding industry and enlarging the Hasmonean
kingdom. Straton's Tower remained a Jewish settlement for two more
generations, until the area became dominated by the Romans in 63 BCE,
when they declared it an autonomous city. The pagan city underwent
vast changes under Herod the Great, who renamed it
Caesarea in honor
of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus.
In 22 BCE, Herod began construction of a deep sea harbor and built
storerooms, markets, wide roads, baths, temples to Rome and Augustus,
and imposing public buildings. Every five years the city hosted
major sports competitions, gladiator games, and theatrical productions
in its theatre overlooking the
Caesarea also flourished during the
Byzantine period. In the 3rd
century, Jewish sages exempted the city from Jewish law, or Halakha,
as by this time the majority of the inhabitants were non-Jewish.
The city was chiefly a commercial centre relying on trade.
11th Century (Fatimid Period) jewelry from Caesarea
The Sacro Catino, a Roman-era bowl made from green Egyptian glass,
later identified as the Holy Grail, brought from
Caesarea to Genoa by
Guglielmo Embriaco in 1101.
Muslim historian al-Biladhuri (d. 892) mentions
Kaisariyyah/Cæsarea as one of ten towns in
Jund Filastin (military
district of Palestine) conquered by the
Rashidun army under
'Amr ibn al-'As's leadership during the 630s.
The area was only seriously farmed during the Rashidun Caliphate
period, apparently until the Crusader conquest in the eleventh
century. Over time, the farms were buried under the sands shifting
along the shores of the Mediterranean.
Nasir-i-Khusraw noted a "beautiful Friday Mosque" in
Caesarea in year
1047, "so situated that in its court you may sit and enjoy the view of
all that is passing on the sea." This was converted into the
church of St. Peter in Crusader times. A wall which may belong to this
building has been identified in modern times.
Khusraw further noted that it "is a fine city, with running waters,
and palm-gardens, and orange and citron trees. Its walls are strong,
and it has an iron gate. There are fountains that gush out within the
The Arab geographer Yaqut, writing in the 1220s, named Kaisariyyah as
one of the principal towns in Palestine.
Caesarea was under Crusader control between 1101 and 1187 and again
between 1191 and 1265.
Louis IX of France
Louis IX of France fortified the city, ordering the
construction of high walls (parts of which are still standing) and a
deep moat. However, strong walls could not keep out the sultan
Baybars, who ordered his troops to scale the walls in several places
simultaneously, enabling them to penetrate the city. During the Mamluk
era, the ruins of
Caesarea Maritima by the Crusader fortress near
Caesarea on the
Mediterranean coast lay uninhabited.
Al-Dimashqi, writing around 1300, noted that Kaisariyyah belonged to
the Kingdom of Ghazza (Gaza).
The Bosnian Mosque at Qisarya
Date of depopulation
Cause(s) of depopulation
In 1664, a settlement is mentioned consisting of 100 Moroccan
families, and 7–8 Jewish ones. In the 18th century it again
In 1806, the German explorer Seetzen saw "Káisserérie" as a ruin
occupied by some poor fishermen and their families.
Victor Guérin visited.
Caesarea lay in ruins until the nineteenth century, when the village
of Qisarya (Arabic: قيسارية, the Arabic name for Caesarea)
was established in 1884 by Bushnaks (Bosniaks) – immigrants from
Bosnia, who built a small fishing village on the ruins of the Crusader
fortress on the coast.
A population list from about 1887 showed that
Caesarea had 670 Muslim
inhabitants, in addition to 265
Muslim inhabitants, who were noted as
Petersen, visiting the place in 1992, writes that the
nineteenth-century houses were built in blocks, generally one story
high (with the exception of the house of the governor.) Some houses on
the western side of the village, near the sea, have survived. There
were a number of mosques in the village in the nineteenth century, but
only one ("The Bosnian mosque") has survived. This mosque, located at
the southern end of the city, next to the harbour, is described as a
simple stone building with a red-tiled roof and a cylindrical minaret.
It was used (in 1992) as a restaurant and as a gift shop.
British Mandate of Palestine
In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate
Caesarea had a population of 346; 288 Muslims, 32
Christians and 26 Jews, where the Christians were 6 Orthodox, 3
Syrian Orthodox, 3 Roman Catholics, 4 Melkites, 2 Syrian Catholics and
14 Maronite. The population had increased in the 1931 census to
706; 19 Christians, 4 Druse and 683 Muslims, in a total of 143
The Jewish kibbutz of
Sdot Yam was established 1 kilometre
(0.62 mi) south of the
Muslim town in 1940. The
declined in economic importance and many of Qisarya's Muslim
inhabitants left in the mid-1940s, when the British extended the
Palestine Railways which bypassed the shallow-draft port. Qisarya had
a population of 960 in 1945, with Qisarya's population composition
930 Muslims and 30 Christians in 1945. In 1944/45 a total of 18
Muslim village land was used for citrus and bananas, 1,020
dunums were used for cereals, while 108 dunums were irrigated or used
for orchards, while 111 dunams were built-up (urban) land.
The Civil War began on 30 November 1947. In December 1947 a village
notable Tawfiq Kadkuda approached local Jews in an effort to establish
a non-belligerency agreement. The 31 January 1948 Stern Gang
attack on a bus leaving Qisarya, killed 2 and injuring 6 people,
precipitated an evacuation of most of the population, who fled to
nearby al-Tantura. The
Haganah then occupied the village because
the land was owned by Palestine Jewish Colonization Association, but,
fearing that the British would force them to leave, decided to
demolish the houses. This was done on February 19–20, after the
remaining residents were expelled and the houses were looted.
According to Benny Morris, the expulsion of the population had more to
do with illegal Jewish immigration than the ongoing civil war. In
the same month the 'Arab al Sufsafi and Saidun Bedouin, who inhabited
the dunes between Qisarya and Pardes left the area. Palestinian
Walid Khalidi described the village remains in 1992: "Most
of the houses have been demolished. The site has been excavated in
recent years, largely by Italian, American, and Israeli teams, and
turned into a tourist area. Most of the few remaining houses are now
restaurants, and the village mosque has been converted into a
State of Israel
After the establishment of the state, the
Rothschild family agreed to
transfer most of its land holdings to the new state. A different
arrangement was reached for the 35,000 dunams of land the family owned
in and around modern Caesarea: after turning over the land to the
state, it was leased back (for a period of 200 years) to a new
charitable foundation. In his will, Edmond James de Rothschild
stipulated that this foundation would further education, arts and
culture, and welfare in Israel. The
Caesarea Edmond Benjamin de
Rothschild Foundation was formed and run based on the funds generated
by the sale of
Caesarea land which the Foundation is responsible for
maintaining. The Foundation is owned half by the Rothschild Family,
and half by the State of Israel.
The Rothschild Caesare Foundation established the
Benjamin de Rothschild Development Corporation Ltd. (CDC) in 1952 to
act as its operations arm. The company transfers all profits from the
Caesarea to the Foundation, which in turn contributes
to organizations that advance higher education and culture across
A portion of the Crusader walls and moat still standing today
Caesarea is located on the Israeli coastal plain, the historic land
bridge between Europe,
Africa approximately halfway between
the major cities of
Tel Aviv 45 kilometers (28 mi) and
kilometers (28 mi).
Caesarea is situated approximately 5
kilometers (3 mi) northwest of the city of Hadera, and is
bordered to the east by the
Caesarea Industrial Zone and the city of
Or Akiva. Directly to the north of
Caesarea is the town of Jisr
Caesarea is divided into a number of residential zones, known as
clusters. The most recent of these to be constructed
is Cluster 13, which, like all the clusters, is given a name: in this
case, "The Golf Cluster", due to its close proximity to the Caesarea
Golf Course. The golfcourse was built upon an ancient Arab town on the
site of a loosely grouped Egyptian and subsequently Greek structures,
with archaeological ruins. These neighborhoods are
affluent, although they vary significantly in terms of average plot
Archaeology of Caesarea
Most excavation that occurs in today's modern times began in 1950. The
majority of the archeological excavations are done by the United
States and Israel. A great deal of the work of excavating Caesarea,
which continues every day, is done by volunteers while under the
supervision of archeologists. Archeologists have been aware of the
innumerable treasures beneath the city of
Caesarea and its 1,300+-year
history under many different conquerors. The unearthed treasures
continue to provide answers to many unanswered questions about many
A rare, colorful mosaic bearing an inscription in Greek, dating from
the 2nd-3rd century CE was uncovered at 2018, in the
Park. It is one of the few extant examples of mosaics from the time
period in Israel. According to the archaeologists, the mosaic measures
3.5 x 8 meters and is “of a rare high quality” comparable to that
of Israel’s finest examples.
The Ralli Museum in Caesarea
Caesarea Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Development Corporation
(Hebrew: החברה לפיתוח קיסריה אדמונד
בנימין דה רוטשילד) is the operational arm of the
Caesarea Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Foundation, whose goal is to
establish a unique community that combines quality of life and
safeguarding the environment with advanced industry and
Today, the Chairman of the Rothschild
Caesarea Foundation and the CDC
is Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the great grandson of the Baron
Edmond de Rothschild.
Caesarea remains today the only locality in
Israel managed by a private organization rather than a municipal
government. As well as carrying out municipal services, the Caesarea
Development Corporation markets plots for real-estate development,
manages the nearby industrial park, and runs the Caesarea's golf
course and country club, Israel's only 18-hole golf course.[citation
Caesarea is one of Israel's most upscale residential
communities. The Baron de Rothschild still maintains a home in
Caesarea, as do many business tycoons from
Israel and abroad.[citation
Caesarea is a suburban settlement with a number of residents commuting
to work in
Tel Aviv or Haifa.
Caesarea Business Park is on the fringe of the city. In the park
are approximately 170 companies. They employ about 5,500 people.
Industry in the park includes distribution and high technology
The residential neighborhoods have a shopping concourse with a
newsagent, supermarket, optician, and bank. There are a number of
restaurants and cafes scattered across the town, with a number within
the ancient port.
Beyond the eastern boundary of the residential area of
Highway 2, Israel's main highway linking
Tel Aviv to Haifa. Caesarea
is linked to the road by the
Caesarea Interchange in the south, and Or
Akiva Interchange in the center.
Slightly further to the east lies Highway 4, providing more local
links to Hadera, Binyamina, Zichron Yaakov, and the moshavim and
kibbutzim of Emek Hefer.
Highway 65 starts at the
Caesarea Interchange and runs westwards into
Galilee and the cities of Pardes Hanna-Karkur, Umm al-Fahm, and
Caesarea shares a railway station with nearby Pardes Hanna-Karkur
which is situated in the
Caesarea Industrial Zone and is served by the
suburban line between
Tel Aviv with two trains per hour.
Binyamina Railway Station, a major regional transfer station, is
also located nearby.
The Roman theatre
The Roman theatre, located at the site, often hosts concerts by major
Israeli and international artists, such as Shlomo Artzi, Yehudit
Ravitz, Mashina, Deep Purple,
Björk and others. Furthermore, the port
has in recent years become home to the annual
which offers three evenings of top-class jazz performances by leading
international artists. Furthermore, the Ralli Museum in Caesarea
houses a large collection of South American art and several Salvador
Caesarea is the location of
Caesarea Golf club, the country's only
full-size golf course. The idea for the
Caesarea Golf and
Country Club originated after James de Rothschild was reminded by the
Caesarea of Scotland's sandy links golf courses.
Upon his death, the James de Rothschild Foundation established the
course. In 1958 a Golf Club Committee was established, and a course
was built. American professional golfer Herman Barron, the first
Jewish golfer to win a
PGA Tour event, helped develop the course.
It was officially opened in 1961 by Abba Eban. The
Caesarea Golf Club
has hosted international golf competitions every four years in the
Maccabiah Games. The course was redesigned and rebuilt by golf course
Pete Dye in 2007–2009.
Laetitia Beck, golfer
Ezer Weizman, seventh President of Israel
Keren Ann, pop singer
Arcadi Gaydamak, Russian-Israeli businessman
Eitan Wertheimer, industrialist
Benjamin Netanyahu, politician and the current Prime Minister of
Avraham Yosef Schapira, politician and a businessman
^ a b "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel
Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
^ "Caesarea" in the American Heritage Dictionary
^ About the CDC Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b "Caesarea". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 26
^ Duane W. Roller and Robert L. Hohlfelder. "The Problem of the
Location of Straton's Tower": 61–68. JSTOR 1356838.
^ Crossan, 1999, p. 232
^ a b Safrai, 1994, p. 374
^ Barber, 2004, p. 168. Mariti, 1792, p. 399. Marica, Patrizia, Museo
del Tesoro Genoa, Italy (2007), 7–12. The object in question is a
hexagonal bowl made from Roma-era green glass, some 9 cm high and
33 cm across. It was seized and taken to Paris by Napoleon in
1805, and it was damaged when it was returned to Genoa in 1816.
Apparently the object was not immediately identified as the Holy
Grail, but it is described as an object with miraculous properties in
12th-century literature, including the Historia of William of Tyre. It
is unambiguously identified as the
Holy Grail in the 13th century, by
Jacobus de Voragine. Juliette Wood, The Holy Grail: History and Legend
^ The conquered towns included "Ghazzah (Gaza), Sabastiyah (Samaria),
Nabulus (Shechem), Cæsarea, Ludd (Lydda), Yubna, Amwas (Emmaus), Yafa
(Joppa), Rafah, and Bayt Jibrin. (Bil. 138), quoted in le Strange,
^ Al-Baladhuri, 1916, pp. 216-219
^ Meyers, 1999, p. 380
^ a b le Strange, 1890, p. 474
^ Pringle, 1993, p. 170 -72
^ a b Petersen, 2001, p.129-130
^ le Strange, 1890, p. 29
^ Pringle, 1997, pp. 43-45
^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village
Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 49
^ a b c Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 14
^ Morris, 2004, p. xviii, village #177. Also gives the cause for
^ Roger, 1664; cited in Ringel 1975, 174; cited in Petersen, 2001,
^ Petersen, 2001, p129
^ Seetzen, 1854, vol 2, pp. 72–73. Alt: 
^ Guérin, 1875, pp. 321–339
^ Oliphant, 1887, p. 182
^ "Caesarea". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
^ Schumacher, 1888, p. 181
^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Haifa, p. 34
^ Barron, 1923, Table XVI, p. 49
^ Mills, 1932, p. 95
^ Khalidi, 1992, p. 183
^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village
Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 91
^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village
Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 141
^ Morris, 2004, p. 92
^ a b c Morris, 2004, p. 130
^ Morris, 2008, pp. 94–95.
^ Morris, 2004, p. 129
^ Khalidi, 1992, p.184
^ "A Museum Renders Unto Caesarea". L.A.'s Natural History Museum.
^ Rare Greek inscription and colorful 1,800-year-old mosaic uncovered
^ "Caesarea". Weizmann Institute. Archived from the original on 19
January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26.
Golf Digest magazine, May 2010
^ "Caesarea". www.top100golfcourses.com. Retrieved 10 February
Herman Barron bio page on International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011.
Retrieved 22 November 2008. Country Club – About
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