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Ancient Jewish Cities & Regions: Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi (Latin: "Philip's city of Caesar") was built by Herod's son Philip on a large plateau at the foot of Mount Hermon where the headwaters of the Jordan river emerge from a grotto.

From ancient times the place was the site of worship of pagan nature gods, first Ba'al & then Pan. A grotto shrine dedicated to Pan & the nymph Echo led the site to be called Paneas in early Roman times [Banias in Arabic]. Herod built a temple dedicated to the Roman emperor Augustus there. But the city was a totally new foundation by Philip. The fresh water pools, fertile environment, thousand foot elevation & scenic vistas made it one of the most pleasant resorts in Palestine. But as a center for pagan worship, miles north of Galilee & without Jewish settlements in the region, it is a puzzling site for the gospels of Mark (8:27ff) & Matt (16:13ff) to locate the story of Peter's confession that Jesus was the Anointed [Christos, Messiah].

Sources: Into His Own