Caesarea Philippi

By the Editors of the Madain Project

  • This article is provides a brief introduction about Caesarea Philippi, the alternate and biblical name of ancient city of Banias.

The ancient city of Banias became the seat of rule during the reign of Herod's son Philipus, who renamed the city as Caesarea Philippi to distinguish it from the other cities names Caesarea (such as Caesarea Maritima). The ancient city was mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, under the name of Caesarea Philippi, as the place where Jesus confirmed Peter's confession that Jesus was the Messiah; the site is today a place of pilgrimage for Christians.


Historically and geographically speaking, Caesarea Philippi is just another name for the ancient city of Banias. Banias, situated at the foot of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, boasts a rich archaeological history that unravels the layers of civilizations that once thrived in the region.

In 3 BCE, Herod's son, Philip II (also known as Philip the Tetrarch) is believed to have expanded the ancient city (or founded) city which became his administrative capital, known from Josephus and the Gospels of Matthew and Mark as Caesarea or Caesarea Philippi, to distinguish it from Caesarea Maritima and other cities named Caesarea (Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27). On the death of Philip II in 34 CE his kingdom was briefly incorporated into the province of Syria, with the city given the autonomy to administer its own revenues, before reverting to his nephew, Herod Agrippa I.

Archaeology of Banias


Formerly known as Paneas, the city underwent significant transformations, particularly during the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. Archaeological excavations at Banias have unearthed remnants of temples, city walls, streets, and other structures, shedding light on the religious, civic, and architectural aspects of its ancient inhabitants.

The archaeological exploration of Banias has revealed the city's ties to pagan worship, notably the worship of the Greek god Pan. The sanctuary dedicated to Pan, situated in a cave, stands as a testament to the Hellenistic religious practices that shaped the city. The remnants of a Roman temple and other structures attest to Banias's continued significance during the Roman period, underlining its strategic and cultural importance in the region.

In addition to religious structures, Banias bears witness to the urban planning and architectural ingenuity of its ancient inhabitants. The city's layout, including streets, houses, and public spaces, reflects the sophistication of Hellenistic and Roman urban design. The archaeological findings contribute not only to our understanding of Banias's historical trajectory but also offer insights into broader regional dynamics, trade routes, and cultural interactions.

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