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The wave-lashed location of this large archaeological site enhances the experience of exploring its Roman- and Crusader-era ruins.You'll duck through magnificent stone vaults, stroll around a vast Herodian amphitheatre and peer at ruins left by numerous conquerors.
A full-price ticket allows you into the Roman ruins and multimedia presentations; a harbour-only ticket, available at the northern entrance, buys access to the harbour area and the Crusader city. After closing time, entry to the harbour – including restaurants and bars – is free.
Entering through the northerly Crusader gate, you'll pass the Cardo (excavated Byzantine street) and the site of a Crusader City. Just south is the temple platform; during Herod's time this was a shrine to Roma and Augustus, though a succession of places of worship were constructed and demolished over the years: a Byzantine church, a mosque, and a Crusader-era church. On the pier visitors can pop into multimedia displays on ancient Caesarea including the Time Tower and Caesarea Experience.
Continuing south is the showpiece of the national park, the Herodian Amphitheatre, a 10,000-seat hippodrome where slaves and prisoners battled wild animals and chariots careened around a U-shaped track. Jutting out to sea after the southern end of the amphitheatre is the Roman-era Promontory Palace, while a Roman theatre – Israel's oldest – lies east.
Caesarea National Park has two entrances: the northern (Crusader gate) entrance, which takes you through the Crusader ramparts to the harbour and its restaurants; and, 600m to the south, the southern (Roman Theatre) entrance. Coach tours often drop visitors off at one and pick them up at the other, but if you'd like to circle back to your car, the northern entrance is a better bet.