Scenes from Caesarea Phillipi: Temple Podium

The reconstructed platform, or podium, near the cave at Caesarea Philippi was originally the base of a temple either to the Roman emperor Augustus or to Pan (or possibly both). The entrance to the Grotto (or cave) of Pan is seen to the left of the Podium.Niches in the cliff face originally held statues of Pan and other gods. The largest arched niche is next to the cave, from which a spring flowed.

The temple next to the cave opened into the cave itself. The opening was probably used for religious ceremonies involving water. The temple may even have covered the entrance to the cave, with the water running beneath the temple floor.

An open-air shrine to Pan was located to the right of the steps to the platform. Another temple was to the right of that shrine, though it has not yet been identified. Some evidence exists that it was a temple to Nemesis, a Phonecian fertility goddess.

The presence of massive temples against this cliff and the fresh water gushing from the cave provide powerful images, as a backdrop to Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and to Jesus' promise to build his church on the rock so that even the gates of hell will not overcome it (Matt. 16:13-19).