Pool of Arches – Ramla, Israel - Atlas Obscura
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Ramla, Israel

Pool of Arches

You can row a boat through this ancient underground reservoir. 

This ancient reservoir offers explorers an unusual experience: the opportunity to row a boat within a 1,200-year-old underground wonder. Gliding across the water is a fantastic way to admire the massive stone pillars that rise to meet a high ceiling of elegant arches.

The Pool of Arches (also called the Pool of St. Helena and the Pool of Goats) was originally built as an underground reservoir in 789 to supply water to the residents of Ramla. According to Christian tradition, St. Helena ordered its construction. And its other name, Pool of Goats, is also fitting, as the four-legged beasts used the cistern in the past.

Despite enduring millennia of earthquakes, the structure is still safe to visit for those looking to head underground and catch an incredible glimpse of some centuries-old infrastructure.  Descend a short but steep flight of stairs into the cool, dimly lit space. There, you’ll find simple rowboats waiting to be boarded. After piling into the boats and taking the oars, you’re on your own!

You can spend about 20 minutes navigating between the 15 stone pillars. See if you can spot the inscription on the stone wall commemorating the reservoir’s construction. If you look up, you can see square hatches carved into the stone where people would lower their buckets to collect water. When you finally surface, there is a small exhibit covering the history of the building and reservoir.

Know Before You Go

The reservoir is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. To visit, call 08-921 6873.

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