Founded by Phoenicians in the 6th to 5th century BCE, Arsuf was initially a part of the Persian Empire. However, during the Hellenistic period, it became an anchorage town that was ruled by Seleucids and was renamed Apollonia. Later, under Roman rule, the size of the town increased, becoming an important settlement along Via Maris, the coastal road. In 113 CE, the city was partially destroyed by an earthquake, but recovered quickly and developed trade with Italy and North Africa. Captured by Muslims in 640 CE, the Semitic name of Arsuf was restored and the town was surrounded by a fortified wall to resist the constant attacks of Byzantine fleets from the sea. In 1101, Arsuf fell to an army of Crusaders led by Baldwin I of Jerusalem. The Crusaders, who called it Arsur, rebuilt the city's walls and created the Lordship of Arsur in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. However, in 1187, Arsuf was once again captured by the Muslim Saracens.
In 1191, a major battle took place close to Arsuf between the forces of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. The Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad entered the area in search of Robert de Sable, who was reuniting with Richard for a briefing in the upcoming battle. Crusader and Saracen scouting parties were scattered around the plains with the bulk of the army moving through the coastal road. Altaïr fought his way through the plains, slaying many soldiers, both Crusader and Saracen.
Upon reaching the encampment, the Assassin was surrounded by members of the Knights Templar, though Richard gave him a chance to speak. Altaïr accused de Sable of secretly plotting to undermine the English king, though his comment was dismissed by the Grand Master of the Templar Order. To settle the affair, Richard directed the two into a final duel, so the man "whose side God favors" would win. While Altaïr was then confronted by a dozen Templars and Robert, he managed to win the fight, despite the unfavorable odds. With his final breath, Robert informed him that Al Mualim, the Mentor of the Levantine Assassins, had secretly been a Templar. Following this, with Richard's consent, the Assassin left for Masyaf to confront his master. The Crusaders emerged victorious from the Battle of Arsuf, and subsequently took control of the city.
By 1261, Arsuf was ruled by the Knights Hospitalier, though it was captured by Sultan Baibars in 1265, after 40 days of siege. The Mamluks then completely destroyed the town, fearing the return of the Crusaders. The remains of the fortress and city still stood during modern times, within the jurisdiction of the Apollonia National Park in Herzliyya, Israel. In 1995, a new village named Arsuf was established north of the fortress.