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Caesarea

Time-worn ruins are strewn along the crystalline Mediterranean shore of Caesarea (Qeysarya; pronounced 'kay-sar-ee-ya' in Hebrew). Once a storied port city to rival Alexandria and Carthage, Caesarea is now split between old and new: the ancient city's remains form Caesarea National Park while chic residential neighbourhoods – and Israel's only international golf club – lie east.

Despite efforts by various conquerors to keep the port in service, time and warfare eventually had their way. By the 14th century most of Caesarea had disappeared under the shifting dunes. Archaeological excavations have revealed impressive Roman sites (rivalled, in Israel, only by Beit She'an). Shut your eyes and imagine chariots careening round the amphitheatre and murmured prayers in shadowy shrines to Mithras; then open them to see a slew of waterside cafes and restaurants where you can dine until late.

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