Caesarea, Caesarea-The best introduction to Caesarea is a visit to its large and modern archaeological park where once can see first hand the extensive Roman structures, like the aqueduct bringing water all the way from Mount Carmel and the well known Amphitheatre- which has been restored and is used for concerts on a regular basis. The beautiful view of the ocean makes the sres a popular venue for many types of events. A short stroll down the road reveals the well kept excavations of Roman Caesarea, as well as a very pleasant shopping and restaurant area bordering on the sea.
Caesarea is known to the New Testament reader as the place where Pontius Pilate ruled from in the time of Jesus, and as the city where Paul was imprisoned a few years later. Peter was a part of Cornelius’ conversion here and Caesarea has become a part of Christian history through these events. But the city has a very rich and varied history which can be investigated in its archaeological park, going back all the way to the 4th Century BC, as well as its peak during Roman times when it was a wealthy and bustling city.
The city of Caesarea was built by Herod the Great. Caesarea had a large Christian community where many important church patriarch’s lived throughout the Byzantine period. The first pagan, Cornelius converted to Christianity in Caesarea. The city was ruled by many different empires throughout history from the Crusaders and Saladin to when the city was captured and destroyed by the Mamluks.
Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, is the urban center of the country’s northern region. Located on the historic Mount Carmel, the city and its surrounding villages have been inhabited for 3,000 years. Today the port city is home to historical sites alongside Mediterranean beaches, and lies only a short drive away from the Sea of Galilee.
History of Haifa
Haifa stands today on land first settled in the Late Bronze Age, and was conquered by successive armies including Caliphates and the Crusaders. A monastery was established by Carmelites in Haifa in the 12th century, and still endures as the Stella Maris Lighthouse and Carmelite Monastery. The city was taken from the Crusaders by Saladin, and changed hands repeatedly until becoming part of what is now modern Israel.
Attractions in and around Haifa
Bahai Shrine and Gardens- Haifa’s most striking landmark is the Baha’i Shrine and Gardens, the International headquarters for the Bahai’s Faith. The shrine is considered the second holiest shrine within the Baha’i Faith and is situated in the city center. The most impressive part of the shrine is the impressive Baha’i Gardens, completed in 2001. Its 19 terraces extend all the way up the Mt. Carmel. Pilgrims come to Haifa from all parts of the world to pay homage to the first leaders of their religion, which emphasizes unity across all cultures and religions. There are also Bahai gardens in the port city of Akko, not far from Haifa. If you wish to visit on your own, there are three locations that you may visit. To get a more in-depth look at the gardens, it is suggested to join one of the free of charge walking tours offered daily (except Wednesday)
Bahai GardensCarmel Beach– Haifa’s Carmel Beach is a great place to spend time relaxing in th esand or at one of the restaurants or cafes that line the boardwalk. The beach is easily accessed by foot from the Hof Hacarmel train sstation and central bus station.
Louis Promenade-This central promenade is located on Mount Carmel, close to many restaurants, hotels (such as the Dan Panorama), museums and other attractions. The amazing view enables one to see the neighboring cities on a clear day.
Technion- Israel Institute of Technology– The world renowned university, home to many Nobel prize winners is located in Haifa. If you wish to visit, the Technion Visitor Center gives free pre-organized tours.
Potential shoppers can stop by the Haifa Mall or the Hutzot Hamifratz center, and museum-goers can visit the Haifa Museum of Art, the Haifa Institute of Science and the National Maritime Museum.
Haifa is also home to religious places of interest for the Abrahamic faiths. The Cave of Elijah, just below the Stella Maris Lighthouse, is believed to where the prophet hid when fleeing from Ahab, king of Israel. Stella Maris Monastery is located surrounding the cave, and holds mass regularly.
Mount Carmel itself, upon which Haifa stands, is an especially prominent site within the Bible. It was on the mountain that Elijah is believed to have lived, and it is on Mount Carmel that the Bible records the prophet dueling with 450 priests of the god Baal. The opposing parties agreed to a contest in which the true god would consume the group’s sacrifice. Elijah emerged victorious after dousing his offering several times with water to make the sacrifice inflammable, while the god of the Baal priests remained silent.
Admission fees. Very good facilities. Wheelchair accessible.
Nearby Places of Interest
The Jezreel Valley, Mt. Carmel, Haifa