Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy Birthday!.......

Another beautiful day and Niza was going to be taking me to Caesarea, (or Qasariyya.) It was not too far and we had a lovely drive up there. We arrived and had to wait a few minutes to see the short film on the site, but it was well worth it. We left the theatre and headed off to the Amphitheatre which is still used today for concerts, operas etc., it was a fabulous space. Niza was telling me that if a singer played Caesarea, then they had really arrived.

I mentioned earlier that there are so many layers to this country with one being built on top of another, and nowhere was this more evident than here. We were heading towards some columns to have a look when we came across this pavement containing stone probably from the Roman period. Caesarea was originally built by King Herod a reviled King, but he did build some beautiful palaces. Once he died, it was then ruled by other members of his family I think, and then was taken over by the Byzantines, then it fell to the Arabs and then came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

It was a little strange walking through what was either a graveyard for columns or a stockpile, couldn't decide which, but it was very interesting to see the beautifully carved tops and the smooth round pillars. There was even a sarcophagus, (middle picture), which would have held a body at some point, not a terribly ornate one.

I really couldn't get over how they had made these so smooth, and this particular one was interesting in that it had a square pillar to it as well.

We spent quite a lot of time looking at all this and then moved on to the Hippodrome passing this Roman well on the way.

I'm sure you are all familiar with the film Ben Hur and the chariot races, well this is what the hippodrome would be used for. It was very interesting, and here we are standing at one end of the track. They raced in an anti clockwise direction, and had to negotiate this tight turn at the top. The raised dais on the right in the photo is where the great and the good would have sat cheering on their favourite charioteer.

It is interesting to look at this photo. On the left hand side, there is this rather odd building coming out into the track, it is actually from the Byzantine period. When they took control of Caesarea, they built buildings on top of what was there, so it looks odd to see it, but it is quite natural, this illustrates what I have been saying about the different periods building on top of each other.

We took a closer look at this foundation and I found it fascinating. As a Ceramic conservator, albeit ex, I was astonished to see that they had used Roman pots to create the foundation for whatever building had stood here, so they either found pots and broke them or took broken shards and used them. The other thing that fascinated me was the shell. Can you imagine how long that shell had been in this foundation? And, it was solidly in, not that I tried to move it, but you could tell it was going nowhere.

I am sorry to disappoint all you quilters who may think that you are using traditional patterns, yes you are, but they are two thousand or so years old. Niza said she hadn't been here for quite some time and was thrilled to see lots of new excavation and the mosaic floors were something to behold. The one above was quite fine so would have been in quite a wealthy home.

Who knew?

We then moved outside the palace walls to the town that was built by the Crusaders. It is a lovely spot with restaurants and galleries, I dragged Niza inside one of the stores there and purchased a couple of pieces.

It was interesting to see how things had been recycled. You can see from this shot that the Roman columns now formed a foundation for the sea wall.

This lovely young man was leading a tour group and was dressed in appropriate attire!

This was the original entrance into the town built by the Crusaders. I loved the vaulted ceiling. We spent a little more time, and then headed back to the car which was quite a walk from where we were, and then continued to Zichron Yaakov for the birthday lunch with Naomi and Rifka. It is a beautiful view form there, and I took the opportunity to take some photos after lunch.

There was a lot of produce being grown in the valley.

We had a short rest at Rifka's lovely home, and then Niza and I took our leave and went to find the Aquaduct that carried water to Caesarea. We actually found the beginning of it in the countryside. I never fail to be astonished at things which have stood for thousands of years, but here it was.

You can't see them, but on the left hand side, there were houses, I wondered if they even appreciated what was right beside them.

We then drove back to the beach at Caesarea to see the rest of it. By this time the sun was beginning to go down, and we had packed a flask of mint tea that morning, and some fruit, so we sat quietly enjoying the sunset and drinking our still hot tea and admired the engineering of two thousand years plus.............

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