by: Asaf Rozen,Gilad Carmeli
Tuesday, 17 December 2019 | The American travel magazine Travel + Leisure ranked the ancient port town of Caesarea as the 12th best place to travel in 2020.
“The happy marriage of antiquity and modernity is drawing more visitors to Caesarea,” said the article, highlighting the new King Herod Visitor’s Center, the seaside Helena Restaurant, the Old Caesarea Diving Center and the newly renovated Dan Caesarea Hotel.
According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Caesarea has been the most visited site in the country for two consecutive years.
In 2018, some 1,006,000 visitors from Israel and the world visited the old Roman city—the second most popular destination for both demographics.
In June this year, a state-of-the-art visitor center was opened at the old archway after five years of archaeological and construction work. This is a flagship project for the old port area and was funded with a NIS 150 million [US $43 million] investment from the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation.
The archway was built by King Herod nearly 2,000 years ago, and the new visitor center tells the story and history of Caesarea.
The center will be host to rare archaeological finds, media installations and a gallery.
The archway was uncovered five years ago during a survey in the area. It was part of a temple complex built by Herod for his Roman patron Emperor Augustus.
The temple complex looked out onto the sea and was mentioned in the The Jewish War, written by Flavius Josephus.
Josephus depicts the temple as laying on top of a small hill and holding in it two statues of the Roman gods Jupiter and Juno. It is said that due to its size, the temple could even be seen from the top of the Carmel Mountains to the north.
Neither statue has been found during the excavations, leading to speculation that they were perhaps taken from the temple at some point in the past.
Another Israeli entry on a prestigious travel list this year is the central city of Tel Aviv, which was ranked number three on the Wall Street Journal’s list of sites to visit in 2019, mentioning Jaffa’s old city, as well as cafes and restaurants and various galleries and hotels.
First place on the list was the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abba, describing the reforms initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the 19th-century royal palace being open to the public.
A major expansion of Addis Ababa’s airport, the newly opened Zuma Museum, and the Addis Foto Festival were also mentioned.
Posted on December 17, 2019
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