Paul sets sail for Rome

"When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment" (Acts 27:1).

This was no two-week cruise on an ocean liner, where everyone ate and danced every night and shopped to their hearts' content in different ports of call. The six-month voyage, from September of 59 through March of 60 AD, was filled with danger and adventure. Luke’s description of the voyage in Acts has been called a masterpiece of vivid narrative and one of the most instructive documents on ancient seamanship and the perils faced by those traveling by sea in the 1st century.

A cargo ship from Adramyttium (modern Edremit, Turkey) bound for ports along the coast of Asia Minor had just put in at the Caesarea harbor (below).

caesarea harbor

Since it was not a military vessel, Paul was allowed to take Luke, the physician and author, and Aristarchus from Thessaloniki with him. On board this 140-foot grain ship, fitted with one mast and one square sail, were a captain, pilot and some 270 soldiers, sailors and prisoners — 276 persons, in all.

ancient grain ship

The ship first set sail northwards for the Phoenician port of Sidon. Apparently, Julius, the Roman centurion placed in charge of the detail, had come to know and trust Paul over the past months in Caesarea, for when the ship docked he allowed him to go ashore and visit some fellow Christians there.


Sidon (modern Saida)

modern Saida - ancient Sidon

Sea Castle (below) - A fortress built by the Crusaders in the early 13th century on a small island connected to the mainland by a causeway. Today the castle consists primarily of two towers connected by a wall.

Sea Castle at Saida

Souk (Arab market) (below) -  Situated in the old town near the Sea Castle.

sidon souk (market)

Below, Khan el Franj (khan or inn of the Franks), one of the many khans built in the 17th century by Fakhr-al-Din II (or Fakhreddine II) to accommodate merchants and goods.

Sidon khan


Sidon to Crete