A few years before the time of Christ, Herod the Great built a new city on the Mediterranean coast and named it Caesarea, in honour of the Roman Emperor. It was a magnificent city, but today only a few of its ruins remain. The Palestine coast south of Mt Carmel had no good sites for harbours, because of the shallow waters and sandy shores. Herod therefore built an expensive artificial harbour for Caesarea, and the city soon became an important port. Being situated on the main north-south coastal road that linked Phoenicia and Egypt, the city developed into a prosperous centre for inland and overseas trade. It was also an important centre of administration from which the Herods, and later the Romans, governed the region (Acts 12:19; 23:33; 25:1-6). When the Jews persecuted the early Christians and forced them to leave Jerusalem (Acts 8:1,4), Philip the evangelist went to live in Caesarea (Acts 8:40; 21:8). The apostle Peter helped the work, and soon a church was established there. An early convert was a Roman centurion, Cornelius (Acts 10:1,24,44-48). Later the apostle Paul also helped the church. He passed through Caesarea on a number of occasions and was for a time imprisoned there (Acts 9:30; 18:22; 21:8,16; 23:23-35; 24:24-27; 25:1-13). This coastal city of Caesarea is not to be confused with the inland town of Caesarea Philippi. The latter was in the hill country of northern Galilee (Matt 16:13; see CAESAREA PHILIPPI).

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