5 km southwest of Bethlehem, a turn off to the east on the road to Hebron leads to an Ottoman Fort and a three large water reservoirs, partly excavated from the rock and partly built, which were used to collect spring and rain water from the surrounding valleys to be channeled to Jerusalem, and is still in use nowadays by the local inhabitants only. Map.
The Pools are made of rock and masonry, can hold up to 160,000 cubic meters of water, and were constructed insteps, each 6 meters above the other, to enable the water to be carried as far as Jerusalem by force of gravity. Solomon’s Pools history goes back to Herod the Great being part of an ancient waterway supplying water to his fortress and palace at Herodion, and may have been conceived by Pontuis Pilate. In 1617 the Turkish Sultan Suleiman Al-Qanouni built a small fortress known as the “Castle of the Pools” to defend the water source and the commercial caravans between Jerusalem and Hebron.