Contributed by Turathuna Bethlehem University on 07.12.2006:
Three pools surrounded by pine trees are located 5 kms (3.1 miles) south of Bethlehem on the road to Hebron and have been attributed to the prosperous period of King Solomon (950 BC) as mentioned in the Book of Ecclesiastics. “I made me great works; I built me houses, and planted vineyards; I made gardens and orchards, and set them with trees of all kinds; and I made me ponds of water to water therewith the wood of the young trees“. King Solomon the wise, as mentioned in the Bible, constructed these pools for his wives, reportedly one thousand in number, so that they could bathe here.
These pools were part of an ancient waterway supplying water to Jerusalem. They were repaired by Pontius Pilate. Herod the Great (30 BC) carried water by aqueduct from here to Heroduim and probably to Jerusalem. Under the Turks, water from these pools reached Jerusalem by a four-inch clay pipe laid in 1902. Below the second pool are the pump station and pipes that took the water to the old city in Jerusalem. These pipelines replace two ancient aqueducts, the course of which can be traced on the way to Jerusalem. There is no doubt that both the Romans and Saracens made use of them and it is possible that the Roman reservoirs were enlargements or restorations of pools originally prepared by King Solomon. Today, this water is only used by inhabitants in the immediate vicinity.
The three large reservations, following each other in line, at a distance of 50 m. from each other, are partly excavated from the rock and partly built; they are intended to collect the rainwater that descends from the overlooking mountains and the water of the springs of the surrounding countryside. Near the upper pool stands a small Turkish castle, El Burak. It is fortified khan of the 17th century now in a rather dilapidated condition. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1617. This rectangular fortress, flanked by a square tower at each of its angles and furnished with battlements, was built as barracks for the Turkish soldiers selected to guard the Pools of Solomon and the commercial caravans between Jerusalem and Hebron.
A little distance to the west of this structure is the Sealed Foundation of Solomon which regulated and secured the constant supply of water for the Holy City. Candles or tapers are necessary when visiting it because a flight of twenty steps by which it is approached leads into a dark vaulted chamber. Today, the pools require restoration and rehabilitation. Access to the pools is from a side road off the main highway.