Sep 30, 2022
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An unprecedented renewal project that will upgrade Israel’s tourism product and enhance the glorious past and future of Caesarea was announced at a Wednesday press conference of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, Caesarea Development Corporation, Israel Antiquities Authority and Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Among the archaeological discoveries that have been exposed and can now be visited by the public is the altar of a temple built by King Herod some 2,000 years ago in honor of Emperor Augustus and the goddess Roma, mentioned in the writings of Josephus Flavius – alongside the synagogue of Caesarea.

Conservation work and reinforcement of the vaults at the front of the temple platform that Herod built in honor of Emperor Augustus and the goddess Roma. (Israel Antiquities Authority)

The project will introduce a cooperation on an unprecedented scale in exposing, conserving and making accessible the important public buildings of ancient Caesarea in Caesarea National Park, while developing and making the settlement’s beaches accessible. This involves an overall investment of more than NIS 100 million that were allocated for the project by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation and the Caesarea Development Corporation.

The project is being implemented as part of realizing the vision of 3 million tourists in Caesarea by the year 2030, and is becoming an important tourist-economic anchor for the residents of the region.

The ancient synagogue of Caesarea. (Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Caesarea has been a vibrant port city since its establishment about 2,030 years ago and throughout the various ensuing periods. Its importance and architectural wealth made it one of the premier cities in the Roman and Byzantine Empires. The archaeological excavations that are being conducted at the site in recent years on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which are a continuation of the excavations from the 1990’s, have revealed many remains that range in date from the time of Herod until the Crusader period.

Together with the large-scale archeological excavations, extensive conservation and restoration measures and development of the harbor are taking place in Caesarea National Park. In fact, this is one of the largest and most important conservation projects ever undertaken in Israel. There is no other site in Israel where in recent years so many funds, resources and means of conservation and development have been allocated. This is a complex operation, which poses many challenges in planning and execution, while maintaining the values of the place. The project is being directed by conservator Yoram Sa’ad and architect Ya’ara Shaltiel of the IAA Conservation Department.

Upon completion of these activities the Caesarea Development Corporation and Israel Nature and Parks Authority will construct an innovative visitor center, installations for benefit of visitors, a spectacular archaeological park and an enchanting promenade that will begin at the ancient aqueduct (Aqueduct Beach) and connect to the city wall and fortifications promenade of ancient Caesarea.

Statue of a ram that was discovered next to the vaults at the front of the temple platform. (Caesarea Development Corporation)

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority director Israel Hasson, “the joint project is meant to expose, conserve and make use of Caesarea’s secrets for the enjoyment of the general public. To date, only about six percent of Caesarea’s treasures have been discovered, and magnificent finds on a global scale are buried beneath its sand dunes. This initiative must be a springboard for an ongoing national project to develop the Caesarea site in all its glory. It should be noted that beyond the archaeological activity, groundbreaking conservation measures are being carried out led by the IAA Conservation Department. We consider this project an opportunity for fostering educational activities at the regional and national levels, and invite the public and discharged soldiers to come, work, volunteer, and be partners in this creative effort.”