The Romans captured Jerusalem in 63 BC and continued to govern in Judea until 135 AD. During these 200 years, famous Roman leaders including Pompey, Julius Caesar, Emperor Augustus, Herod the Great, and Emperor Hadrian all left their mark on the country. They also impacted the culture – Rabbinic Judaism developed under the Romans and they presided over the birth of Christianity. In 70 CE they destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem and dispersed the Jews all around the world, creating what became today’s Jewish Diaspora.
Even today, amazingly well-preserved Roman buildings can be seen in many places around Israel. Many Roman ruins in Israel have been reconstructed to show how Roman people lived.
Much of Jerusalem was built by the Roman Emperor Herod, who decided to reconstruct the Jewish Temple. It became the focal point for both Jewish worship and the birth of Christianity during the first century CE, until its destruction in 70 CE. All that remains is the Western Wall, built by Herod as one of the retaining walls for the massive structure that he built on top of Temple Mount. We take people to visit the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Visitor Center where you can see reconstructions of life in Herodian times, including a restored Roman street and excavations near the Southern Wall of the Old City.
The harbor city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast was built by Herod in honor of Emperor Octavian Caesar. It has been preserved as a fascinating archaeological park where you can visit the reconstructed harbor, a state-of-the-art multimedia exhibition about Roman life, and the restored Amphitheater, used today for summer concerts. There is also an underwater museum where experienced swimmers can explore the ruins of the ancient city of Caesarea. Herod’s other major contributions to Israel include his fortress at Masada, and his tomb inside Mount Herodion.
Romans in the Galilee
In the north of Israel there are a number of Roman sites that tell the story of early Christianity and the later Roman occupation of Israel. Tiberius, located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, was named after the Roman emperor Tiberius, and contains many Roman artifacts, including the 4th century Severus Synagogue with its well-preserved zodiac mosaic floor.
A Roman boat, discovered in the 1980s and dated back to the 1st century, known as the Jesus Boat, is preserved at the Yigal Allon Museum on Kibbutz Ginosar. There are also Roman remains of an early synagogue and a building known as the House of St. Peter at Capernaum, near Tiberius. At Beit Guvrin National Park you can explore the underground caves and remains of an important 3rd century Roman city called Eleutheropolis, including its reconstructed amphitheater.
The imprint of the Romans in Israel has been preserved by the heat and excavated more than any other country that they conquered. Today we can take you to see many fascinating remains of the Roman Empire in Israel, bringing the past to life. Talk to Shatour Israel today about visiting Roman sites in Israel.