Bethesda Pools….archaeological remains as old as the 8th century BC!!

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The pool of Bethesda (Bethsaida) has always been an area of mystery and controversy for Christian historians and archaeologists alike.

The pool is located in the Muslim Quarter of Old Jerusalem, about 50 meters inside the St Stephen’s or Lions’ Gate. Years back, the gate was called the Sheep Gate, because this was where sheep were brought to the Temple for sacrifice.

St Stephen's Gate
Lion’s Gate

The history of the pool starts in the 8th century BC when it was used as a reservoir for rainwater.

In the 1st century BC, natural caves to the east of the two pools were turned into small baths. Later, people began to visit the pool to receive either treatment or some sort of healing, both spiritual and physical. Thus, it turned into a healing temple. A Byzantine temple was build adjacent to the site of the pool. Today, a visitor could find the remains of the Byzantine church and the pool well protected.

The place has been under the protection and keeping of the French government since 1856.

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Remains of the Byzantine temple

I visited the place one afternoon. There were a number of other tourists at the time I visited. I walked into the Byzantine temple which is now in its ruins. There is a flight of stairs build over the pool remains through which I walked into the temple. The pool is said to have had an extreme depth of 13m! Inside the temple,there is a staircase leading down to a pool where there is water even to this day. The building is made of white stones which makes it look beautiful. Adding to this beauty, there is a certain kind of red flowers everywhere….!

Remains of the old Byzantine temple:

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A pool adjacent to the Byzantine temple

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Taking a flight of stairs down in the temple, I found this pool inside…..

These archaeological treasures are spectacular! It gave me a look back into the distant past!

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