JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Israel has secretly sold the ancient Roman amphitheater and hippodrome in the coastal city of Caesarea to an anonymous foreign buyer.
Some 172 acres of land, including a large chunk designated as a historic national park, were sold to the Saint Ventures Limited holding company, which is registered in the Caribbean, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.
Earlier this month, the church secretly sold about 123 acres of property in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Jerusalem to several private real estate developers.
The Greek Orthodox Church is one of the largest landowners in Israel, including 1,110 acres in Jerusalem that it acquired in the 19th century. The church leased the land to the Jewish National Fund in the early 1950s for a period of 99 years, with an option to extend the lease.
Israel’s Knesset building is built on such leased land, according to The Times of Israel.
King Herod established Caesarea about 2,000 years ago, and significant archaeological discoveries continue to be made there. The amphitheater is now in use as a concert venue; the port area has been turned into a tourist attraction.