The Kotel in Hebrew or Wailing Wall and Western wall in English,
is the most significant site in the world for the Jewish people.
Jewish and Christian pilgrims, families who celebrate Bar Mitzvahs,
sounds of the Muazin, Orthodox who meditate
and curious tourists, you can find all of these and more at
the Kotel square.
According to the common Jewish belief the Shekinah,
known as the Divine Presence, never left these stones after
the Temple was destroyed. Jews from all over the world pray
here and ask God for personal wishes as well as the common
wish that the Messiah will come soon and the Third Temple
will be built.
Believers meditating and crying is a frequent sight not only
today but in ancient times as well.
This is the reason that the familiar name of the place is the Wailing Wall.
Where the spirit meets matter, when Divine touches human.
The connection between God and a Wall is mentioned in
the Bible, in the book of Song of Songs.
“My beloved! Behold, He cometh, leaping upon the mountains,
skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a
young heart; behold, he standeth behind our wall,
he looketh in through the windows, he peereth through
the lattice” (chapter 2, 8-9).
Late to the destruction of the second Temple based
on these verses from the Old Testament.
A Jewish tradition finds the presence of a part of God,
called the Shekinah, in the stones that surrounded the Temple.
Based on this tradition, Jews during history came to the Wall
and prayed to God leaving a mark on the stones.
Since the Byzantine period the Jews left their name carved on the wall.
There are still a couple of inscriptions on the southern wall.
Only during the 20th century the believers started to use paper notes.
The western wall foundation cleans the wall twice a year before the High Holidays, around September,
and before Passover, in April. The main plaza is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The little Western wall is a narrow alley and only the two
lowest rows of building stones date from the Second Temple
period. It doesn’t have a large plaza like the Western Wall.
It is located near the Iron Gate (one of the exits from Temple
Mount to the Muslim quarter).
The small measurements give the impression of how
the Western Wall looked like until 1967.
Some believers claim that these stones have more significance
because they are closer to the Holy of Holies in the Temple,
similar to the sacred part of the Temple located beneath
this area in the tunnels of the wall.
The strange narrow entrance was used by the Muslims
who lived in the neighborhood as a public toilet.
They wanted to desecrate the Holy Jewish site.
In this part of the western wall there is no separation between men and women,
everybody prays together. It is reachable from Al Wadi Street and from there to Iron Street, Ha-Barzel Street.
The western wall tunnel is an underground tunnel exposing
the full length of the Western Wall.
The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located,
mainly, under buildings of the Muslim quarter of the old city.
The excavations started during the 19th century with British
archaeologists who discovered some of the walls and a part of
the bridge that served the priests in the Temple of Herod
the great. Only after 1967, the excavations continued and since
the 80’s the Western Wall Heritage Foundation has been running
the research and the visits.
You can combine a visit to the open western wall,
which is 60 meters, with the tunnels, the rest of the 485 meters
underground. Some of the interesting things to see in site are
the findings from each and every period of the city’s history.
For example the Mikveh or purification ritual bath of the Jews from the Herodian period or
the houses and dyeing cistern from the middle ages or the late Muslim period.
Tours are held in different languages all day long. To book your tour:
It is a hidden archaeological park at the southern area of
Temple Mount. Like the Western Wall tunnel,
the British archaeologists dug this area.
The Muslims didn’t allow them to excavate under
Temple Mount so they completed the research at the surrounding
areas of the mosques. Most of the findings are dated from
the first Temple period till the early Muslim period
(10th century b.c. to 9th century a.d).
The archaeological park is divided into two:
The closed Museum and the open Garden.
The exhibition in the Museum contains items that were found
in the site and shows the development of the area including
different functions of the site during different time periods.
Short films, in Hebrew and English, help the visitor
understands the Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple in the past and the development of the archaeological
research during the last years. Each area in the open Garden is dedicated to a different period:
the Herodian Street with a special inscription “Trumpeting place…” on the west southern corner of the Temple,
the Umayyad’s palaces, Huldah gates and the main entrance to the second temple and some of the remains
of the Ophel (fortification from the first Temple period).