Sunday, August 7, 2011

Caesarea National Park

Yesterday we visited the Caesarea National Park. Of course, I have been there many times before, on childhood school trips, on family visits, and sometimes with visitors from abroad. It is a place with a long history of habitation by various cultures: Pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Moslem. It is one of my favourite places to visit, and over the years I have seen the site grow and develop.

I remember on my earliest visits the main parts of the site were the Roman theatre and parts of the Crusader walls and city. Further north, parts of the aqueduct were visible along the beach. The site was sandy and there were a few facilities, such as bathrooms and a small cafe. Since then, additional sections have been excavated and opened to the public, including the Hippodrome and more of the harbour area. The site has been developed a lot, with better footpaths, lawns, and many more restaurants and shops in reconstructed buildings. It feels more hospitable, but at the same time less like an excavation and more like a tourist attraction that happens to have some ancient ruins lying around. It also feels more commercial, with many places to eat, souvenir shops, art galleries, and jewellery shops.

We went to see the new attraction at the site that we hadn't seen before, two short films about the site. One described the city's history, and another explained the various buildings from the different periods. These films were available in seven languages (Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian, French, German, and Spanish), which I think is probably rare at most tourist attractions around the world.

The weather was hot and humid, so we didn't explore the whole site this time. I look forward to visiting the site again when the weather is better.

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