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By T.S.
Published June 9, 2008

Amidst the sand dunes and rocks between Haifa and Tel Aviv rests the ancient Roman port city of Caesarea. Once the site of a Phoenician port, the city was rebuilt and renamed by Herod more than 2,000 years ago, and has since been restored thanks to its significance as one of the largest ports in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The sea breeze wafts through the car windows as you travel down the road toward the city, and you can’t help but feel as you take in the scenery that there will be the promise of something timeless.

Of course, the city does boast its share of modern attractions. Israel’s only 18-hole golf course lies on the outskirts of the city and park—surely one of the more picturesque courses in the world. Designed appropriately for the area, with plenty of beautiful landscaping and planted trees, it’s a tranquil oasis where cool winds blow in from the sea as you play.

Moving on, I was surprised by the appearance of a neighborhood full of post-modern private estates. It’s worth taking a detour into some of these secluded enclaves—completely unobtrusive and hidden by dunes, these neighborhoods are quite stunning. Many of the modern buildings and the golf course are there because of the Caesarea Edmond Benjamin De Rothschild Foundation. With the establishment of the state of Israel, the Rothschild family transferred vast parcels of land to the new state, and then set up a charitable foundation to help govern the area and contribute to education and culture across the country. Baron De Rothschild still maintains a residence here, as do many other wealthy families, politicians and celebrities.

Peruse this area freely and make sure to take note of the appropriately named streets—“Topaz,” “Diamond” and “The Precious Stones” are just a few of the many ritzy addresses. While pristine sand dunes are everywhere, there are also manicured lawns on the mini-rotaries accented with pink, lavender and white petunias. Obviously there is a well-thought-out juxtaposition of old and new taking place in this extraordinary city.

Upon arriving at the National Park, I was a bit baffl ed at first by the Crusader City (built in 1100 C.E.) along the shores of the sea. As I walked into the city, I realized that both to my left and my right there were ruins of all shapes and sizes. Not far from the entrance, you can fi nd plenty of little shops hosting local Israeli artists’ ceramics and drawings. With a fine bottle of Israeli red wine in hand, I promptly found my way to the old port and the sea.

The moss-covered rocks along the boardwalk rest against the seawall. From afar, I could stand silently and listen to the sound of the wind, and watch as a man skipped rocks across the water. Summers here must be magnificent, and to fully experience the
  Travel notes

Travel Tips

Getting There: From Tel Aviv, take Ayalon North through to the end. Merge onto Route 2 North towards Haifa. From there, it’s roughly a 30-minute straight shot to Caesarea¹s exit.

Where to stay: Enjoy a luxury stay overlooking the beautiful golf course at Dan Hotel Caesarea.

Where to eat: While shopping in the Old Port, don’t miss the best focaccia pizza around at Aresto ($20-30). If you fancy seafood, you can¹t pass up Helena’s ($21-30). Also conveniently located in the Old Port, enjoy your meal as you sit with breathtaking views of the sea.