The most significant building left from the time when the Abbasid caliphs ruled in the Land of Israel is the Pool of Arches. The structure is a rare witness to the quality of construction and beauty of Moslem architecture, especially in view of the fact that the Pool of Arches has survived for 1,200 years since its construction, and also the enormous damage caused by heavy earthquakes which destroyed large parts of the town of Ramla.

    The underground water reservoir was built in 789 AD, in the days when the famous Caliph Harun al Rashid ruled from Baghdad. The year of its foundation is chipped into the plaster of the pool’s wall, saying, “In the name of Allah and with Allah’s blessing, the agent of the Emir of the faithful ordered construction, may Allah lengthen his days, in the month of Haja in the year one hundred and seventy two.”

    The Pool of The Goats

    The pool was built as a roofed water reservoir for the residents of Ramla. In Christian lore, it is also called the Pool of St. Helena, based on a tradition according to which Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I (who built also the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem), was the one who ordered it to be dug. In addition, the pool is also known as The Pool of The Goats in Arabic. And indeed, there were arches in the past through which the beasts were watered.

    The pool was fed by a central aqueduct coming from the region of Gezer and leading to the reservoirs on the compound of the White Tower. The opening where the water entered the pool was recently discovered in the course of an archeological excavation carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authorities. It is possible that the pool’s location is due to a small spring in the vicinity.

    A few stairs lead down to the pool, and there are three rows of columns built from stone, and each row has five columns which carry the curved arches on which the roof rests. Cut into the ceiling are square hatches through which previous generations apparently drew water with pails and ropes.

    The pool’s basin is almost square and measures 19.82 x 21.17 meters. In the winter, its waters overflow and are pumped off. The Pool of Arches offers rowing boats to be used by adults and children to enter the magic historical space.

    Opening hours of the site:

    Sun. – Thurs. – 8:00 am to 16:00 pm
    Fri. and holiday eves - 8:00 am to 14:00 pm
    Shabbat and holidays - 8:00 am to 16:00 pm
    Coordination of visits to the pool only: 08-921 6873

    The inscription on the wall.   Photos: Ron Peled