“Hugely impressive Roman ruins” of a city and port “built to rival Alexandria”, boasted the travel guide. You never know with ruins—many (most?) of them turn out to be a bunch of dull, loosely scattered stones. Caesarea was on our way back from Haifa, though, so we figured we might as well drop by and see.
We didn't time our arrival well. It was the day of Yom Hazikaron and the amphitheater—perhaps the most interesting part—was closed early. The harbour was open though, and lucky for us, required no payment to enter.
The ruins were pretty much what we expected them to be. Pieces of old building blocks, columns, scattered across the landscape. Some still formed structures—walls, ponds, roads—others sat loosely on the ground, only vaguely reminding visitors of the once greatness of the city.
I must admit I fail to see the beauty of such places. Neither here, nor in Jerusalem. I do love old buildings—factories, castles, manors—as long as they're still roughly complete structures. For them I can imagine the buzz of life that they once hosted. But the ruins… I guess my imagination just isn't efficient enough to bridge the gap between stone piles and a bustling, ancient city.
Caesarea does have an upside, though. It's a picturesque location on the seashore—something local businesspeople discovered long ago, and opened up a few neat bars and restaurants, turning it into a lovely spot for sunset dinners. All of the restaurants face the waterfront, with both indoor and outside seating.
There are a few art galleries around, though these close considerably earlier than the restaurants. Plus, there's a diving school, where one can book underwater tours to see what else remains underneath the waters of the once busy Roman port.
All in all, it's not a place worth visiting on its own, but if you're on the way nearby and would like a nice meal in a pleasant location—particularly in the evening—it's certainly worth a detour.