“Now [living] at Caesarea there was a man whose name was Cornelius, a centurion (captain) of what was known as the Italian Regiment, a devout man who venerated God and treated Him with reverential obedience, as did all his household; and he gave much alms to the people and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour (about 3:00 p.m.) of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God entering and saying to him, Cornelius! And he, gazing intently at him, became frightened and said, What is it, Lord? And the angel said to him, Your prayers and your [generous] gifts to the poor have come up [as a sacrifice] to God and have been remembered by Him.” (Acts10:1-4)
Caesarea is located mid-way between Tel Aviv and Haifa on the Israeli coastal plain near the city of Hadera on the Mediterranean Sea. Many say it should be one of the 7 wonders of the world. Originally, Caesarea was built on the ruins of Straton’s Tower and was likely an agricultural store house in its earliest days. Around 90 BCE the city was captured by Alexander Jannaeous, then King of Judea, and remained a Jewish city for 2 centuries as it developed its ship building commerce until the Romans in 63 BCE over too kit.
In 37 BCE, Herod was given the title of King of Judea for his rendering homage to Rome, under the Roman Empire’s founder Caesar August us. By 6 BCE, Caesarea had become the administrative capital of civilian and military rule in the Judean Province and was ruled as an autonomous city within King Herod’s Jurisdiction. After Mark Anthony’s defeat at the Battle of Actium, King Herod further strengthened his ties with Caesar Augustus by renaming the city “Caesarea Martima” in honor him. Herod began construction of Caesarea 25-14 BCE which included his personal palace on a peninsula adorned with a decorative pool surrounded by covered walks and colonnades.King Herod desired to bring trade through Judea so he constructed a 41-acre deep-water port in Caesarea. The port was an architectural wonder made from concrete block and pillars using cement from Italy that hardened when submerged into water. The city’s infrastructure contained storerooms, markets, wide roads, baths, a temple in honor of Augustus and grand public buildings including an amphitheater and a stadium making Caesarea the location of majors ports competitions, gladiator games and theatrical productions from grand Roman style venues which overlooked the Mediterranean Sea.
Caesarea remains one of great architectural achievements built by King Herod, known to be a mastermind of creating great structures in the land of Israel. After the fall of the Roman Empire came the Byzantine Empire and the Crusade battles. Under Byzantine rule, the city was renamed Byzantine Palestina Prima province and retained that name throughout the Crusades. Caesarea remained vibrant with life well into the Byzantine period chiefly as a commercial center with the majority of the residents being non-Jews. For a brief period in the 11th century, its land was farmed but the Crusaders conquest left little and the farms were lost to the shifting sands along the shores of the Mediterranean.
In1251, the French King Louis IX fortified Caesarea and constructed high walls and a deep moat. The city did not survive, the attack by Sultan of Baybars after its walls were penetrated leaving the city in ruins and virtually uninhabited until the 19th century when it was re-established under the Arabic name of Qisarya (meaning Caesarea). During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Baron Edmond Jamesde Rothschild purchased much of the land around Caesarea. Settlers, immigrants from Bosnia, established a small fishing village on grounds of the ruins of the former Crusader’s fortress and in 1940 the Jewish kibbutz of SdotYam established it self just south of the Arab town Qisarya. As the Arab village continued to decline in economic importance after the British extended the Palestine Railways by passing the shallow port, many of the its Arab inhabitants left the city during the mid-1940’s.
In February of 1948 the 4th Battalion of Palmach took possession Caesarea under the command of Josef Tabenkin and notlong after the State of Israel was established.The Rothschild family transferred by agreement the majority of its land holdings in and around Caesarea to the new State of Israel. This agreement established the transfer of 35,000 dunams of family owned land and stipulated that the land be leased back to a newly formed charitable foundation for 200 years. The new foundation was to operate on funds generated by the sale of Caesarea land under which the Foundation would be responsible for handling all sales. The Foundation formed was owned half by the Rothschild Family and half by the State of Israel. In 1952, the establishment of the Caesarea Edmond Benjaminde Rothschild Development Corporation Ltd.(CDC) was formed to establish a unique community that would combine quality of life while safe guarding the environment and generating advanced industry and tourism. Today the company acts as the operating arm of the Foundation and transfers all profits from the development of Caesarea back to the Foundation and in turn the Foundation contributes to organizations that advance higher education and culture advancement across the nation of Israel.
The Chairman of the Caesarea Foundation and the CDC is Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the great grandson of the Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Caesarea remains today the only locality in Israel managed by a private organization rather than a municipal government. The Foundation overseas municipal services, including the Caesarea Development Corporation which markets plots of real-estate development and manages the Roman theatre which of ten hosts concerts by major Israeli and international artists.
Caesarea has in recent years become home to the annual Caesarea Jazz Festival which offers three evenings of top jazz performances by leading international artists. The Ralli Museumin Caesarea houses a large collection of South American art and several Salvador Dalí originals supporting culture and art.
Today the Foundation’s achievements can be seen in an industrial park named the As rear Business Park which is home to over 170 companies employing over 5,000 Israeli citizens. The Foundation runs Caesarea’s 18 hole golf course and country club which is the only 18 hole golf course in Israel. The city is home to some of Israel’s most prestigious residential communities located in the historic Caesarea coastal plain, where the areas are divided into zones, known as clusters. The neighborhoods are universally affluent, although vary significantly in terms of average plot size. Caesarea offers easy access to highways and public rail systems which support both the residential and commercial zones. Caesarea is home to the Binyamina Railway Station which is a major regional transfer station.
Caesarea a city built by a King for a King has continued throughout history and continues to be one of the “wonders of the world” both in historical architecture achievements and with its Mediterranean panoramic views. More importantly, it is the city that God sent Simon Peter to, for he was to proclaim the Gospel to a Roman Centurion (Acts10) and his house hold and friends. This event launched the time of the in gathering of the gentiles by an Angel where God proved that “He is no respecter of persons.”
“And Peter opened his mouth and said : Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that Gods hows no partiality and is norespecter of persons, but in every nation he who venerates and has a reverential fear for God, treating Him with worship ful obedience and living uprightly, is acceptable to Him and sure of being received and welcomed [by Him].”(Acts10:34-35)