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Solomon’s Pools and the Public Park


In the old days, most of the social relationships between the people of Bethlehem and Jerusalemites took place by those pools. On Sundays, the site was animated by picnickers who came with large families for a “fête autour du puits,” or feasting around the well, as described by Jean Jacques Rousseau. At a time when Jerusalem was suffering from water shortages, numerous underground water reservoirs were excavated in and around the city to collect spring and rainfall water, and Solomon’s Pools were the main source. The three pools form part of the natural and cultural heritage of Palestine. Solomon’s Pools are located between the villages of Artas and Al Khader, just 4 kilometres south of Bethlehem, in a small valley surrounded by pine and cypress trees. They consist of three enormous rectangular cisterns that can carry around 160,000 cubic metres of water. Water coming all the way from Arroub and Biyar valleys used to fill the pools through water channels that were dug in the rocks, and then supply Bethlehem and Jerusalem with water. Tradition has it that King Solomon had these pools built in order to supply water to Jerusalem, or that they were built by a Roman king to water the gardens of his beloved princess, however, it was during the Herodian period that they were built. In the last few years, the pools were cleaned and renovated, and the Ottoman Murad Fortress was rehabilitated and integrated to the tourism complex that was especially built to develop the area. This complex includes what was supposed to be an arts and crafts village and the Convention Palace.

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