Old Caesarea Diving Center
Located along the Mediterranean coast of Israel, about halfway between the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, Old Caesarea Diving Center is the oldest Israeli diving centre. The diving centre is situated at the midst of the Caesarea National Park and provides access to the ancient ruins of Sebastos, Caesarea’s deep sea harbour, built in 22 B.C. by the King of Judea, Herod.
Herod’s plan in building Sebastos was to create in his kingdom a major port for the transit trade of luxury goods in the Mediterranean Sea at a time when demand for this kind of product rose considerably. Harbour facilities with artificial breakwaters but also storerooms, markets and wide roads were built following the specifications of the Roman architect Vitruvius. Caesarea and its new deep sea harbour shortly became the country's economic and political capital.
First large scale artificial harbour in history, the biggest and most modern harbour in the whole Roman Empire at the time, Sebastos was one of the most impressive harbours of its time. It had been constructed on a coast that had no natural harbours and it served as an important commercial harbour in Antiquity, even rivalling Cleopatra’s harbour at Alexandria.
However, while impressive on the surface, the harbour started sinking soon after completion and progressively fell into oblivion. If the exact reasons for Sebastos’ decay – geological faultline, tsunami, unstable sandy bottom or even the sheer weight of the structure – remain unknown for certain, it is however known that by the 6th century AD the harbour was unusable.
Created by late Pr. Avner Raban, the underwater archaeological park allows to explore the remains of the sunken harbour. Four tracks marked underwater lead to 28 signs, pointing to sites of interest, which embody the wonders of Roman marine engineering and tell the story of two millennias of the harbour’s existence. The diving centre provides a full range of services and courses relating to diving.