Caesarea (Hebrew: קֵיסָרְיָה; Arabic: قيسارية, Kaysaria; Greek: Καισάρεια)
I finally took a road trip that was outside of the general Rehovot-Kibbutz area this past Sunday. I decided it would be a great day as here Sunday is the beginning of the week and so the crowds at beach sites would be manageable. Plus, the weather was perfect for a long ride! I found out about this beach from a recent story over at TouristIsrael.com (link is below) that listed some of the best beaches here in Israel to try to see. I had a bit of trouble finding the exact area, but after a few wrong turns I finally reach the aqueduct beach and it was well worth it. While I was there less than 20 people came and went, so we all basically had the entire beach to ourselves once we spread out. The beach itself does not have facilities and is free, but there is a basic shower to wash off with and a few “shade-trees” to sit under and keep out of the sun. No restrooms nor changing stations.
As this was my first “big” road trip here in Israel, I was excited and a bit nervous. I had made sure to look over the area on google maps really well before I left, but I did run into some trouble when I arrive around the area. Luckily, I kept at it and after finding a few other interesting places, I found the road that would take me where I wanted to go. I ended up stopping once during the trip for gas and two other times just to take a little break or get some water. The highway I took, the Coastal Highway (Road 2) was really windy and the sand was blowing up throughout the ride and hitting my face (as I do not have a full-face helmet now). I was able to control my vespa really well, but I did notice the strain on my arms from holding it steady and trying to not let the air flow (from trucks and other traffic) effect me as much as it could have. That part of the drive was a new experience to me and as another scooterist said to me, “What, are you mental?!!!” I guess it isn’t something people here would do if they owned a scooter, take a trip from Rehovot to Caesarea, but it worth it. (And I survived! Yay!)
I have to also write that this trip wasn’t very bad at all, when thinking back about my interaction with the other traffic. Usually, drivers are out to get me but I noticed that on this drive everyone was pretty considerate and tried to give us both enough space on the highway. That was a great help, as the wind was taking up a lot of my attention. On the ride back, once I was in Tel Aviv on the 20 highway road, cars were at a complete standstill. Luckily, with the scooter you can bypass this waiting game and drive on the sides of the road or “lanesplit” it. As a scooter driver, always make sure to watch out for other scooters behind you. Those suckers sneak up on you really fast and you don’t want to cut over lanes and forget that one might be coming up from behind.
The beach itself was beautiful and seemingly secluded, as no one was there on this particular visit. It was romantic and a photographer’s dream: the colours of the Mediterranean Sea, the white sand all around you, and with the Roman Aqueduct behind you, how could this place not be a bit of Heaven on Earth? It was lovely, indeed.
Below is a little video of that piece of Heaven for you to enjoy,
This is just to give you a visual of the beauty found there. Thanks DMB (Crash Into Me), for helping me create the mood. While I was looking at various videos from the area, I found this one and had to make note if it here: do a search for “Samuel and Jessica – Surprise Proposal in Caesarea, Israel” over at YouTube if you wanna smile. After watching this video, I found their wedding story and Jessica’s blog (http://bohobabybump.blogspot.co.il/), so charming! Plus, they really know how to make videos on youtube. If you are interested in that sort of thing, check them out! They made me smile so much last night, with their personalities and all around amazingness. They were even on one of the bride shows on the TV. Such a cute couple!
“Aqueduct Beach. (just north of Caesarea): My personal favorite. It’s located minutes from Binyamina and Zichron Yakhov. The beach adopted its name from the ancient Roman aqueduct 1000s of years old that still runs directly through it. Be prepared as there are no bathrooms, but they do have open showers to rinse off. In the peak summer season, you can find one lone vendor selling ice cream and snacks out of a trailer.The coastline is rough with many large rocks and the swimming can be dangerous at times. There are lifeguards on duty that will not allow you to stray to far out. During most times, the water is clear and calm combined with the backdrop of the ancient Aquaduct ruins; it is a mesmerizing combination.”
Driving Directions/ Google Map:
I had a bit of trouble finding this place, so be sure to ask around if you head out yourself (not with a group), as there are tons of roads and a lot of misleading signs. Click maps to enlarge.
- You should be headed either North or South on Road 2 ( כביש 2, Kvish 2), which is the Costal Highway and is very windy,
- Get off at the Or Akiva Interchange and head towards the water/West
- If you want to go see the National Park, follow signs that lead you there on the main road.
- If you want to get to the (free) Caesarea Aqueduct Beach, turn right on Rothschild Rd, then turn left on the Aqueduct Rd (Signs should help you find it also.)
To Note: The Aqueduct Beach is worth the trip, so please go there after you visit the National Park-if you decide to go there. You can use the restroom and do what you need with those facilities before you leave for this beach. There is a working (basic) outdoor shower but little else. I have read that there are various food stalls that pop up in the summer when more people arrive and visit, but plan on bringing some snacks with you just in case nothing is there. They have a few “shade trees” they built for your use, but only three of them. Bring beach chairs and another other beach ECT you like to use. Make sure to walk around the aqueduct as much as you want, as there are some great views from the various vantage points around that spot.
“The Caesarea Aqueduct Beach is one of the most breathtaking beaches imaginable. The ruins of an ancient Roman Aqueduct mark the inland edge of the beach and the clean sands don’t attract hoards of tourists. This beach gets busy at the weekend with locals and the breathtaking aqueduct is a stop off for many tour buses, however with no restaurants, promenade, and often no lifeguard (which means that bathing isn’t always allowed) it is a great place to get away from it all. The beach is a couple of kilometers north of the ancient harbor and city which makes Caesarea famous, in the modern residential development, and a combined trip to the two makes a lot of sense. The beach is located about about half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and because of the aqueduct, is especially beautiful at sunset.”
I love sand patterns created in deserts and was so pleases to find a few hills around the beach that had these unique wind markings.
And now for some history on the subject,
“First founded as a small Phoenician port city, the city was called Stratons Towers, an apparent distortion of the name of the Sidonese god Ashtoreth. In 90 BCE, the town was captured by Alexander Jannaeus and annexed into the Hasmonean kingdom.
Water Supply System to Caesarea: In the time of Herod, underground water supplied the needs of Caesarea residents. With the expansion of the city, additional water sources were found in the region, and in order to draw the water to Caesarea, several aqueducts were built. The highest aqueduct includes three channels that were built in different times:
- The first channel was apparently built in Herod’s time, and drew water from various springs to Caesarea, north of Binyamina. The aqueduct, built on arches, crossed the gravel ridge of Jasser a-Zarka through a tunnel.
- The second channel that was added later channeled the waters of the Tsabrin spring located north of Amikam. Between Ein Tsabrin and Ein Aviel, a 6km-long tunnel was dug. This aqueduct was built during Hadrian’s time by the tenth legion. This channel drew water from other water sources as well by underground factories that directed water from the Elyakim, Amikam and Aviel regions.
- The third channel was build during the Crusades. Apparently, since the Crusades city was built on the ruins of its predecessor, its level of water was higher, as was the second channel – and this was the third channel.
The low aqueduct: This aqueduct was apparently built during the Byzantine period, with an increasing population that needed a larger water supply. The aqueduct channeled spring water from the Maagan Michael region (the Kabara marshes), north of Caesarea. Since the level of the springs was lower than the level of Caesarea, dams were built through which water was stored in lakes whose level was sufficiently raised to channel the water to Caesarea. Near Caesarea, the channel passed under the arches of the high aqueduct, running parallel to that one until the city.”
“Modern Israeli town: With the establishment of Israel, the Rothschild family made an agreement to transfer most of their vast land holdings to the new state. A different arrangement was reached, however, for the 35,000 dunams of land the family owned in and around modern Caesarea: after turning over the land to the state, it was leased back (for a period of 200 years) to a new charitable foundation. In his will, Edmond James de Rothschild stipulated that this foundation would further education, arts and culture, and welfare in Israel. The Caesarea Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Foundation was formed and run based on the funds generated by the sale of Caesarea land which the Foundation is responsible for maintaining. The Foundation is owned half by the Rothschild Family, and half by the State of Israel. The Foundation established the Caesarea Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Development Corporation Ltd. (CDC) in 1952 to act as its operations arm. The company transfers all profits from the development of Caesarea to the Foundation, which in turn contributes to organizations that advance higher education and culture across Israel.”
My Road Trip Essentials.
As this was my first “big” trip out of the Rehovot area, I wanted to make sure I packed what I needed for the 180kms (to and from) trip. I made sure to bring extra H2O, a few snacks (I like snacking), my ‘pa lock (in case I thought it needed to be locked up), my Israeli road and map (not shown), and sunscreen (not shown). It is required by law here to have a reflective vest with you at all times, so that is in the bucket somewhere too. Tip: Chapstick can also save your lips out on rides! Keep it handy if your lips chap easily.
“Go in Peace”
More sites to check out for further information on Caesarea:
- http://www.letsgo.com/ (General info about the area)
Happy riding, y’all!