Caesarea Philippi

Also known as Baal-gad, Banias, Baniyas, Banyas, Barias, Belinas, Caesarea Neronias, Caesarea of Philip, Caesarea Paneas, Caesarea Panias, Caesareia Sebaste, Keisarion, Kisrin, Medinat Dan, Mivzar Dan, Neronias, Pamias, Paneas, Paneias, Paneion, Panias, Panium

Caesarea Philippi

Situated 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee and at the base of Mt. Hermon, Caesarea Philippi is the location of one of the largest springs feeding the Jordan River.

This abundant water supply has made the area very fertile and attractive for religious worship.  Numerous temples were built at this city in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Biblical History

Apparently known as Baal Hermon and Baal Gad in the Old Testament period, this site later was named Panias after the Greek god Pan who was worshiped here.

There is no record of Jesus entering the city, but the great confession and the transfiguration both occurred in the vicinity of the city (Matt 16:13), then known as Caesarea Philippi.

Grotto of Pan

The spring emerged from the large cave which became the center of pagan worship.  Beginning in the 3rd century B.C., sacrifices were cast into the cave as offerings to the god Pan.

Pan, the half-man half-goat god of fright (thus “panic”), is often depicted playing the flute. This city, which was known in ancient times as Panias, is now called by the Arabic form of this name, Banias.

Sacred Niches

Adjacent to the sacred cave is a rocky escarpment with a series of hewn niches.  We know that statues of the deity were placed in these niches by depictions of such on coins of the city.

One niche housed a sculpture of Echo, the mountain nymph and Pan’s consort.  Another niche housed a statue of Pan’s father, Hermes, son of nymph Maia. Inscriptions in the niches mention those who gave large donations.

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Related Websites

Banias.com (Pepperdine University)  A gallery of photos from the biblical city of Caesarea Philippi.  Each of sixteen categories lead to several large pictures with limited captions.

Caesarea Philippi (Walking in Their Sandals)  Gives easy-to-read information on the location, biblical significance, etc.  Features links to photographs and on-line scripture references.

Caesarea Philippi (The Church of Christ in Zion, Illinois)  Highlights points of historical and spiritual significance surrounding the main biblical passage associated with this site.  Gives excellent background on the history of pagan religion in the area.  Includes a brief photo tour.

Banyas (The Israeli Mosaic)  Contains informative sections on  history, the Hermon River, sites at Banyas Reserve, and getting there.  Links throughout the history section allow for in-depth study.

Banias (Christian Travel Study Program)  Limited text, but site features several good pictures with excellent identifying captions, including an artist’s reconstruction of the site in the Roman Period.

Banyas: Cult Center of the God Pan (Israel MFA)  Gives a detailed history of the site and descriptions of several of the important archaeological features relating to cult practices in the area.

Caesarea Philippi (Into His Own)  A brief, encyclopedia-type article with links to related words and topics for further study.

Caesarea Philippi (Daily Bible Study)  General information about the area with links to many topics related to historical geography, historical and biblical characters, biblical manners and customs, and the life of Christ.