The first logical stop in Caesarea Maritima is an ancient theater that has been reconstructed. It was first built by order of Herod the Great, the Herod who sought to kill Jesus in his youth (Matthew 2.13-20). And do recall, it is this Caesarea where Cornelius and his family lived.
An informative sign near the main entrance of Herod’s theater reads:
“Herod’s theater, built between 22-10 B.C., was the first of its kind in Israel. Throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods the building underwent several alterations. Sometime during the 3rd or 4th c. A.D., the orchestra was converted into a large basin for staging nautical games. Apparently offended by the licentious entertainment the theater offered, the Christian Byzantine rulers closed it down in the 5th c. A.D.
“Between 1959 and 1964 extensive excavations were carried out at this site. The restoration and reconstruction of the theater – the first large-scale operation of its kind in Israel – have allowed the building to resume its original purpose. During the summer nights, the theater lends its unique setting to outdoor concerts , ballet, and opera performances.”