Initially named Straton, in honor of the King of Sidon who ruled the area in the 4th century BC, Caesarea as we see it today is one of several flourishing Roman cities built in Judea. King Herod who built it in 30 BC, named it after Augustus Caesar, the ruler of the Roman empire and his political patron. The remains of this Mediterranean city gives us a glimpse on just how powerful the Roman influence was on the the people of Judea. The port, the huge theatre, the palace, the hippodrome, the aqueduct, the stables, the amazing spa... are all examples of its glorious past, during the Roman-Byzantine era. For as long as trade under the Byzantine empire flourished, Caesarea remained an important port, and was in fact the capital of the Province of Judea and home to the Roman governors of Judea. But when it was conquered by Khalif Omar in 640AD, it lost its importance, and for 500 years it was just another small village on the Mediterranean coast.
That, until the arrival in 1101 of the Crusaders, who conquered Caesarea from the Muslim and built a small port to serve local trade, since the main ports at that time where Jaffa and Acre. Late in the 13th century the Crusaders lost Judea to the Mameluke who destroyed all the crusaders ports in fear of their return in what is known as the "scorched earth" policy.
Caesarea was left in ruins all through the Ottoman period until the 20th century when it was rebuilt and its ancient ruins became a national park. Today the Caesarea national park is a must-see spot in every Israel tour. When walking around the Theatre, the Latrina, the Cardo, it is easy to imagine the life of its ancient citizens.
And you can always pose as a rock star in the old theatre...