The Strouthion Pool Project
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is currently at work on an expansion and renovation project at the Strouthion Pool within the Western Wall Tunnels.
The Strouthion Pool was built by King Herod. The king instructed to have a moat built – a deep ditch that would create an obstacle for enemies trying to approach the Temple Mount from the north. He then put a public pool within the moat which was approximately 55 meters long and 15 meters wide. Hadrian, emperor of Rome, preserved the pool and divided it in two by creating a large wall with foundations built on arches. He constructed a market square above the moat by building two arches above the pool.
Over the years, the entrances to the pool were sealed. It was discovered in 1870 during excavations for the foundations of the Sisters of Zion monastery, but was sealed again by the heads of the monastery for fear of leaving open a possible way of breaking into the monastery. In 1985, workers of the Ministry of Religion exposed the southern sections of the pools that were left outside of the monastery site.
Although the pools look large, they were considered small in relation to other public pools of the time. The meaning of the Greek work “strouthion” is “lark”, the name of a small bird. The pool was thus named because it was the smallest of the public pools in Jerusalem. Within the Western Wall Tunnels today, only one quarter of the original pool can be found, with the rest hidden within the cellar of the Sisters of Zion monastery.
Today, visitors to the Western Wall Tunnels stand at the height of the moat to look out over the pool. Only one pool is visible to the visitors. This is the last stop in the tour of the Tunnels after which the visitors exit the Tunnels to the street.
The exposure of the pools to their complete depth was completed in 2005. At the same time, the design for a visitor bridge to be constructed at the site was completed. The bridge will allow visitors to walk down to the water level. From there, they will be able to admire the arches above them, walk along the two pools, and view a multimedia presentation. In addition, there are plans to construct a rest area where guides will be able to conclude the tour of the Tunnels and get feedback from visitors.