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Herod's Roman Theater, Caesarea

Restored Roman theater of Caesarea. Photo © Heatkernel. View all images in our Herod's Roman Theater Photo Gallery.
Replica of the Pontius Pilate inscription discovered here. Photo © Eliot.

The Roman Theater of Caesarea in Israel is a well-preserved and fully restored theater built by Herod. It is notable for its modern use for concerts, its fine view of the sea and the inscription discovered here that mentions Pontius Pilate.

History

The theater was built by Herod in 22-10 BC and was the first of its kind in Israel. It was continuously maintained throughout the Roman and much of the Byzantine eras. It had (and has) a seating capacity of 3,500-4,000 and was built using many granite columns from Aswan. Originally, there was a large stage that blocked the view of the sea.

What to See

The theater is located about 70 meters inside the south wall of the Byzantine city, and is the first monument you encounter coming from the highway. It has been fully reconstructed except for the stage (in order to preserve the fine sea view). In the center is a special seating area that would have been reserved for Herod and other dignitaries. The semicircular platform behind the stage was added in the 3rd century. Today, the restored theater is frequently used for performances.

Near the path to the theater is a replica of the famous Pontius Pilate inscription (the original is in the Israel Museum), which was discovered in 1961. The block with the inscription had been reused in the stairway of the theater. Pilate, a Roman governor, had his official residence in Caesarea and is, of course, best known for his part in the trial of Jesus in Jerusalem. The inscription records Pilate's dedication of a temple to the Emperor Tiberias around 26-36 AD. Part of it is missing, but a suggested restoration reads:

The fortifications around the theater are from a 6th-century Byzantine fortress that used part of the high back of the theater to guard the south end of the city. The provincial governor took up residence here after Samaritans and Jews burned his palace down in 555 AD.

Quick Facts on Herod's Roman Theater

Site Information
Names:Herod's Roman Theater; Herod's Roman Theater, Caesarea
City:Caesarea
Country:Israel & Palestine
Categories:Ancient Cities; Theaters/Arenas
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Caesarea,
Coordinates:32.496180° N, 34.891033° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Herod's Roman Theater

Below is a location map and aerial view of Herod's Roman Theater. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Kay Prag, Blue Guide to Israel and the Palestinian Territories (2002), pp. 295-97.
  2. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, The Oxford Archaeological Guide to the Holy Land (1998), pp. 207-10.

More Information

Article Info

Title:Herod's Roman Theater, Caesarea
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/20/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/caesarea-roman-theater/israel/caesarea-roman-theater
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