A captivating photo featuring the ruins of Caesarea, a significant biblical city, with the Mediterranean Sea as its backdrop, evoking the historical and cultural significance of this ancient site.

Where Is Caesarea In The Bible?

Caesarea is an important location that is mentioned several times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. If you’re looking for a quick answer, Caesarea was an ancient port city located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in what is now north-central Israel.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the history of Caesarea, its geographical location, and the many biblical events that took place there. We will look at how Caesarea came to exist under Herod the Great in the 1st century BC and became the capital of the Roman province of Judea.

We will see how Caesarea was a center of early Christianity, being home to the apostle Peter, Philip the Evangelist, and Paul the Apostle at various points. In examining the biblical references, we will cover events like the baptism of Cornelius the centurion and Peter’s escape from prison.

The Founding of Caesarea in the 1st Century BC

Herod the Great Built Caesarea as a Major Seaport

King Herod the Great constructed Caesarea Maritima in 22–10 or 9 BC near the site of Straton’s Tower, which had been a small port town. Herod built Caesarea as a large deep-sea harbor to rival the ports of Alexandria and Piraeus.

Located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Caesarea became a thriving commercial hub connecting Israel to the wider Roman world. Herod named the city “Caesarea” in honor of Caesar Augustus.

Herod spared no expense in developing Caesarea into a magnificent city that served as his capital. According to the ancient historian Josephus, the construction of the port took over a decade and required enormous engineering feats, vast sums of money, and thousands of workers.

Giant breakwaters made from concrete and hydraulic concrete protected the harbor from destructive waves and storms.

  • The harbor could accommodate over 300 ships and handle large cargoes bound for cities across the Roman Empire.
  • A sophisticated aqueduct system brought fresh water to Caesarea from springs located nearly 6 miles away.
  • Herod also built pagan temples, a hippodrome, palaces, bathhouses, a theater, and other monuments seen in major Greco-Roman metropolitan areas.
  • In the Bible, the book of Acts references Caesarea multiple times as an important location in early church history after Herod’s death.

    Caesarea Became the Provincial Capital Under the Romans

    After King Herod died in 4 BC, Caesarea came under direct Roman rule. The city expanded significantly under the Romans during the 1st century AD. The apostle Peter first brought the gospel to Caesarea around 41–44 AD.

    In the book of Acts, Cornelius the centurion and his household also became followers of Jesus Christ through Peter’s ministry in Caesarea.

    6 AD Caesarea becomes the official capital of the Roman province of Judea.
    26–36 AD Pontius Pilate governs Judea from Caesarea as the fifth prefect of the Roman province.
    41–44 AD The apostle Peter brings the gospel to Caesarea and baptizes the centurion Cornelius, making him one of the first Gentile believers.

    Caesarea grew to an estimated population of 125,000 by the year 66 AD. The city featured a temple dedicated to Augustus and Roma along with many pagan shrines. However, Christianity also spread through Caesarea’s thriving community.

    In the 2nd–3rd centuries AD, important early church leaders such as Origen and Eusebius lived and taught there.

    The ancient ruins of Caesarea attest to its former glory as a wealthy trading hub and seat of power. Today they offer a glimpse into its prominence during biblical history when the gospel first radiated outward to transform the Roman Empire.

    Geographical Location of Caesarea in Israel

    Caesarea Located on Israel’s Mediterranean Coast

    Caesarea is located on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It sits along the historic Via Maris trade route that connected Egypt and Syria. This prime location on the coast made Caesarea an important harbor and trade center in ancient times.

    The ancient harbor of Caesarea was built by Herod the Great around 22-10 BC and was one of the largest artificial harbors of its time. It featured breakwaters made from hydraulic concrete, a newly invented Roman building material.

    The massive harbor had mooring for over 300 ships and warehouses for storage of goods from across the Mediterranean world.

    In addition to its harbor, Caesarea was built on top of the ruins of a fortified Phoenician town called Straton’s Tower. This earlier town was likely established to take advantage of the sheltered anchorage spot and trade opportunities.

    The location seems to have long been recognized as strategically valuable for maritime trade and military control of the coastal region.

    Strategic Position Near Major Trade Routes

    Caesarea was located along the Via Maris, the major coastal highway that connected Egypt to Syria and Mesopotamia. This route was vital for trade in the ancient world, transporting goods like papyrus, fabrics, spices, grains and manufactured wares between major centers of civilization.

    Control of Caesarea allowed rulers like Herod to tax caravans and charge harbor fees on ships traveling the Via Maris. The city profited greatly from all the commercial activity passing through its gates.

    Archaeological artifacts found at Caesarea attest to trade connections extending as far as Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and North Africa.

    In the time of the Byzantine Empire, Caesarea became an important Christian center situated between Jerusalem and the new capital of Constantinople. Its location on the pilgrimage route from Europe to Jerusalem further added to its strategic value in later periods.

    The ancient ruins of Caesarea’s harbor, hippodrome, amphitheater, palace, and churches continue to attract visitors today who come to explore this historically important spot on Israel’s coast.

    Caesarea in the New Testament Period

    Philip the Evangelist Preaches in Caesarea

    In the Book of Acts, Philip the Evangelist became one of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles to distribute food in the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6). He later went to Caesarea Maritima to preach the gospel, performing signs and miracles (Acts 8:40).

    Many Samaritans and people from Caesarea became believers through his teaching and miracles. This established an important early Christian community in Caesarea during the 1st century AD.

    Peter Baptizes the Centurion Cornelius in Caesarea

    In Acts 10, the apostle Peter met and stayed with a Roman centurion named Cornelius in Caesarea. Cornelius and his household became the first recorded Gentile converts to Christianity. Peter baptized Cornelius and his relatives and close friends in Caesarea.

    This signified that salvation through Jesus Christ was open to Gentiles as well as Jews.

    Paul the Apostle Imprisoned in Caesarea

    The apostle Paul visited Caesarea several times during his missionary journeys described in Acts (Acts 18:22; 21:8). On Paul’s final visit to Jerusalem, a riot broke out and Roman soldiers had to intervene to save Paul’s life.

    They took him to the Roman governor Antonius Felix in Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 23:23-24:27). Even while in prison, Paul continued to teach people about Jesus Christ.

    Later Christianity in Caesarea

    Several notable early Christian bishops resided in Caesarea, including Eusebius of Caesarea (circa 260-340 AD). Eusebius wrote important works documenting the early history of Christianity. Excavations at Caesarea have uncovered one of the earliest Christian prayer halls with an altar, dating to about 230-250 AD.

    This shows that by the 3rd century AD, Caesarea was an important center of Christianity in the Roman Empire.


    In summary, Caesarea was a prominent city in Israel during biblical times, founded by Herod the Great in the 1st century BC. Its strategic coastal location made it an important seaport and administrative capital. Many significant biblical events took place in Caesarea, especially in the Book of Acts.

    The city was home to early Christian leaders like Peter, Philip and Paul, and saw events like the baptism of the first Gentile convert to Christianity. Examining where Caesarea is referenced in the Bible provides helpful context about this ancient city and the growth of the early Christian movement.

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