The New International Encyclopædia/Cæsarea Palestinæ
CÆS'ARE'A (Gk. Καισάρεια, Kaisareia) PAL'ESTI'NÆ. An ancient seacoast town of Palestine, on the site of which is the modern El-Kaisariyeh, 32 miles north of Jaffa (Map: Palestine, B 2). It was built by Herod the Great and named in honor of Augustus Cæsar. The site was originally called Strato's Tower. Herod made here a magnificent harbor by constructing a strong breakwater (the ruins of which still remain) on which he lavished vast sums of money. The town was built at great expense, with an amphitheatre, temples, and other like structures (Josephus, Ant. xv. 3-5; 9-6; xvi. 5-1). Its water-supply and drainage system were of unusual excellence. It became the military capital of Palestine, where the Roman procurators had their headquarters. It is noted in New Testament history as the place where Peter preached the Gospel to Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Christianity (Acts x.), and as the scene of Paul's two years' imprisonment (Acts xxiii. 33, xxvi. 32) . In the great war with Rome, A.D. 66-70, Cæsarea suffered the almost total extermination of its Jewish inhabitants. Here Vespasian had his headquarters and was proclaimed Emperor, A.D. 69. Soon after he constituted it a Roman colony. After the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) it became the metropolis of Palestine. During the early Christian centuries Cæsarea continued to be a place of importance. Pamphilus, pupil and friend of Origen, had here a famous library (Third Century). Eusebius, the father of Church history, was Bishop of the place 315-318. The town was conquered by the Moslems in the Seventh Century. The Crusaders captured and plundered it in 1101. Among the booty they found, it was claimed, the Holy Grail. (See Grail, The Holy.) After various fortunes at the hands of the Crusaders, who rebuilt it on a smaller scale, it was finally destroyed by the Sultan Bibars in 1265, The modern place is only a village on the ancient site.