Settlement at what became Caesarea, on Israel’s central Mediterranean coast began in the third century BCE during the Hellenistic period as a small Phoenician port city called Straton’s Tower.
In 90 BCE, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus conquered the city to expand the borders of his kingdom and develop its shipping industry. The population of Straton’s Tower remained Jewish until the Romans conquest in 63 BCE, when the granted the city its freedom. King Herod the Great transformed the city beginning in 22 BCE with the construction of its sophisticated port, warehouses, markets, great streets, bathhouses, temples and magnificent public buildings, naming it Caesarea. Every five years the city hosted gladiatorial games, sports competitions and performances.
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Sources: Israel Nature and Parks Authority