North (Tzafon) of Tel Aviv
By: Roye Salomon
Hidden along the beautiful seaside is the Apollonia National Park. Apollonia or Tel Arsuf has been populated for more than 1800 years.
|Just north of Tel Aviv are the cities of Hertzlia (named after Theodore Hertzel, the Zionist visionary) and Ramat Hasharon. Practically, these cities are Tel Aviv suburbs and within easy reach of Tel Aviv (10 minutes NIT). The western side of Hertzlia is called Hertzlia Pituach and borders with Kfar Shemaryahu. This is one of the most expensive and up scale living areas in the country. Many diplomats and rich entrepreneurs reside here and the smell of flowers gardens and money lingers in the air. In 1191 the Crusaders invaded again and won a decisive victory here regaining a foothold in the Holy land which would last for 100 years.
|The first “modern” settlement in Apolonia was established by the Phoenicians during the 6th century A.D. Later during the Hellenistic period the town was renamed Apollonia after the god Apollo.Today this is a beautiful park and archeological site set spectacularly on the beachfront. The beaches in the area are clean and beautiful (as would be expected of such an affluent area),and the park alone is well worth the visit.
How To Get There (HTG T): From Tel Aviv take Route number 2 north, until the Kfar Shmaryahu exit. Following the exit ramp turn left (west) and follow the brown signs Tel Arsuf or Apollonia. The park is open 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Caesarea National Park
Just 30 minutes north of Tel Aviv, the ancient city of Caesarea is one of the finest examples of Roman era building in the world. The city is an important landmark in both Jewish and Christian history. The city was built on a Phoenician port village by King Herod, and named in honor of the Caesar Augustus. In 22 B.C.E. began the construction of sea harbor as well as markets, roads, baths, temples, and public buildings which lasted 12 years. Every few years the city hosted sports competitions, gladiator games, and theatrical productions in its large amphitheatre. Caesarea became the most important city after Jerusalem. The aqueduct, hippodrome and magnificent amphitheater remain standing today. In 6 CE, Caesarea became the home of the Roman governors (Procurators) of Judea. The Great Jewish Revolt of 66-70 CE started in Caesarea when the Jewish and Syrian communities began fighting over a pagan ceremony conducted on Shabbat near the entrance of a synagogue. The Roman indifference to this sacrilege brought on widespread disturbances and eventually full rebellion. When the Romans quelled the revolt they razed Jerusalem and moved their center of power to Caesarea.
Caesarea is also where the Romans tortured and executed Rabbi Akiva after the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE.Christian history records Caesarea as the place where Simon Peter converted the Roman, Cornelius, who was the first non-Jew to believe in Jesus. The disciple Paul was also imprisoned in Caesarea.
Inside the gate of the amphitheater is a plaque with a replica of an inscription found during excavations. The inscriptions"TIBERIVM" and "TIVS PILATUS," are references to Emperor Tiberius and Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea at the time of Jesus. This is the only archaeological evidence of Pilate's existence.
The city flourished during the Byzantine period and was built and sacked by many opposing Muslim and Christian kings during the crusade era. Today the archeological remains are a national park of astounding beauty. Located on a wonderful part of the Mediterranean shoreline, the park is a great place to wander about. The amphitheatre is a must as it looks out to the sea, giving one the feel of the ancient times. This amphitheatre is still used for concerts and art and music shows and it is highly recommended to see one there.
The nearby Kibbutz of Sedot Yam, holds some of the artifacts found during the excavation of Caesarea and was home to Hanna Senech the Jewish paratrooper who was captured and killed by the Nazis. The Sedot Yam beach is one of the finest you can find, and is a good place to rest your soul and body.
The modern city of Caesarea hosts the only real golf course in Israel, and a clay plate shooting range.
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