The pools are three huge rectangular cisterns cut in the rock and masoned locally known as Solomon's pools. They are situated about 3 kms south of Bethlehem. The pools hold about 1160,000 cubic meteers of water. They are constructed in steps, each six meters above the next, to enable to water to be carried as far as Jerusalem by sheer force of gravity. They also supplied Herod's fortress and palace at Herodion. Near the pools are the remains of Qal'at al Burak (fortress of the pools) also known as Qal'at Murad. The fortress was built by the Turkish sultan Murad in the 17th century for the protection of the water soruce and maintained this role throughout the centuries.
Although the constructino of the pools is attributed to King Solomon, they probably date from Herod's era, the idea being conceived by Pontius Pilate. History shows that Pilate, not Solomon, built the great aqueduct which supplies water to jerusalem.
The fortress and the pools are set in a beautiful grove of pine and cypress trees. The site can be accessed from an eastern side road off the main Bethlehem-Hebron road. The system was in use as recently as 1946, and along much of the route from Bethlehem to Jerusalem original terra-cotta piping can still be found lying around.