Caesarea Philippi, earlier known as Paneas, was a center of pagan worship (see Images and Idols) from ancient times. The Canaanite (see Who Were The Canaanites?) god of "good fortune" was worshiped there during the era of the Old Testament (see Old Testament Fact File), and Between The Testaments the Greeks (see Ancient Empires - Greece) constructed a shrine to one of their false gods.
After the death of Alexander (see Alexander The Great In Prophecy), the city was the location of a major battle in 198 B.C. in which Antiochus the Great defeated the Egyptians and took control of the land of Israel for The Seleucids.
In 20 B.C., during the Roman times (see Ancient Empires - Rome) of the New Testament (see New Testament Fact File), it was transferred to the control of Herod The Great who built a temple there to Caesar Augustus (the Roman emperors claimed to be gods in ancient times, just as they will again - see Birth Of A Superpower and The Antichrist). After Herod died in 4 B.C., it came under the authority of Herod's son Philip who renamed it Caesarea Philippi after Tiberius Caesar and himself.
Herod Agrippa II, the grandson of Herod the Great (see The Herods) renamed the city Neronias after Emperor Nero, but after Nero committed suicide the name was changed back to Paneas.
During the Jewish-Roman War of 66-70 A.D., in which Jerusalem was devastated (see The Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.), the Roman general Vespasian camped his army there for a time. After the war, Titus held gladiatorial shows in the city where many Jewish prisoners were slaughtered for the perverted amusement of the spectators.
With Caesarea Philippi being so close to Galilee, Nazareth and Capernaum, Jesus Christ often visited the city during His lifetime (Matthew 16:13-23, Mark 8:27-33). The Transfiguration is believed to have taken place on a mountain not far from Caesarea Philippi.
Fact Finder: Did Jesus Christ make His famous "on this Rock I will build My church" statement near Caesarea Philippi?
See also Peter and Did Peter Have The Primacy?