Caesarea Maritimia, Acre and Haifa

Caesarea Maritimia, Acre and Haifa May 17, 2012

Today was our first day of touring, and it felt pretty full, although the tour guide at the end of the day said that tomorrow will be a full day, and so apparently it is possible to at least try to squeeze even more in.

Today was a visit to completely new places for all of us, since they were places that even I had never been before. Our first stop was Caesarea Maritimia. It is a fantastic site for introducing the way sites in Israel reflect a long history of occupation by a variety of civilizations, all of whom may have left their mark on the site. The location seems to have first been established as a port by the Sidonians. In the Roman era, Herod the Great built a city there and named it after his patron. During the period of direct Roman rule, Pontius Pilate lived there and it is the place where the only inscription mentioning him was found. Conflict between Jews and Gentiles there sparked the war against Rome that ended with the destruction of the temple in the year 70. It served as the capitol of the Roman province of Palestine in later times. And the history continued, often with things being built, destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed again, replaced by something else, and so on and so on.

Here’s a photo of our tour guide, Baligh, in the city’s theater.
And here is a photo with all the students by the Mediterranean, plus Blue, our university mascot.
We also visited Acre, where we explored the crusader era city which is now underground because a Turkish ruler wanted to build over it and he covered it rather than demolishing it. Since most of that was indoors or underground, I didn’t take too many photos.
We also visited the Cave of Elijah on Mt. Carmel, supposedly the place where Elijah hid from Queen Jezebel.
The last tour stop of the day was the Bahai hanging gardens, which have the Bahai temple within the grounds, although we did not have the opportunity to visit that. The gardens themselves are stunningly beautiful
The view is particularly spectacular with the Mediterranean Sea in the background.

From there we went to our hotel, where they have free wi-fi, and so hopefully today and tomorrow not only will blogging about the trip be easy and painless, but perhaps I can persuade the students to also share some of their photos and thoughts – or at the very least make contact with family at home if they have a device with them that will let them do so!


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  • Who needs a tour guide when you have Professor McGrath.  In the photos of Baligh, he looks either dumbfounded by the professor’s knowledge, or bored.  The photos are fabulous!  Hide the dog, unless the college president’s photo is on the flip side.  This suggestion:  take individual photos of every student at every special site.  You’ll understand later if you decide to add their voices to some kind of electronic diary.  These students will one day look back and realize how special their trip was to take, with their incredible college professor. Savor this moment, students.

    • Baligh is a wonderful tour guide – as someone who cares about getting the historical details right and nuancing things, and who has encountered plenty of tour guides not concerned for such things in the same way, I have been really pleased with Baligh’s extent of knowledge.

      • Really didn’t mean to sound disparaging about Baligh, just that his arms were crossed and he looked to me like he was thinking, “Who’s holding up this party?”  😉

        This last photo of the city and the sea, looks like a postcard!  It’s beautiful.  

        Have a great Friday ahead!

  • Brad Matthies

    Is it too much to ask for a photo with a Darth Vader cutout?  Your lack of Star Wars is disturbing…

    • I’m sure the professor will have his tour guide take some nice group photos of him with his students.

  • Hmmm, I still don’t see Dr. McGrath in any of these pictures with his students. I’m beginning to hypothesize that Dr. McGrath’s presence on this trip is a myth.