This western wall known to be the most holly place for Jews. It is located in the heart of the old city in Jerusalem, everyone can visit the place with the respect for the local orthodox people, no provocative clothing and it is separated men & women.
King Herod built this retaining wall to the Mount complex in the first century BC. Inside, it is believed that King Solomon's Temple once stood.
Nowadays it is the most holy site accessible to the Jews because the Muslims control the Temple Mount complex. The reason people pray at the wall are because it is believed to be the closest point to the Holy of Holies, the holiest room of the old temple. A Muslim mosque (Dome of the Rock) now occupies this site. This old tradition of praying at the wall began around 200-300 AD when Rabbis claimed that God's presence still tarried at the location of the Holy of Holies. Many write prayers and messages on paper and stick them between the cracks. The men wear either a hat or yarmulka to show respect. At the wall you can hear some of them wailing or crying for the loss of their great temple. This is why the wall became known as "the Wailing Wall."
In front of the wall is a large Plaza created in 1967 when Israel captured the old city.
You need to show respect around the site and yes, you will face more security checks to get access.
The Wailing Wall or Western Wall was once a wall of the great Jewish temple, which was located there for more than 500 years. Herod began rebuilding and adding on to the temple,around 19 BC, the total work was only finished about fifty years later . The temple itself was destroyed by the Romans only a few years after its completion.
It is thought by Jews to be the most sacred of places, because the temple itself was thought to be the place where God resides on earth. Praying at the Wailing Wall means being in the presence of the Divine. Jews from all countries, and as well as tourists of other religions, come to pray at the wall, where it is said one immediately has the “ear of god.” Those, who cannot come to the wall can send their prayers, written on small papers. They are placed into the cracks of the walls and are called tzetzels. There is usually a small charge for this service.
The name "Wailing Wall" is a Christian term. The Jews refer to the wall as the Western Wall or Kotel HaMaaravi. Though the Wailing Wall has been considered the holiest of places on earth for Jews, it has also been the source of grief and war.
"Jewish tradition teaches that the Temple
Mount is the focal point of Creation.
In the center of the mountain lies the
"Foundation Stone" of the world.
Here Adam came into being.
Here Abraham, Isaac and Jacob served God.
The First and Second Temples were built
upon this mountain.
The Ark of the Covenant was set upon the
Foundation Stone itself.
Jerusalem was chosen by God as the dwelling
place of the Shechinah.
David longed to build the Temple, and
Solomon his son built the First Temple here
about 3000 years ago.
It was destroyed by Nevuchadnezzar
The Second Temple was rebuilt on its ruins
seventy years later.
It was razed by the Roman legions over
1900 years ago.
The present Western Wall before you is a
remnant of the western Temple Mount
Jews have prayed in its shadow for
hundreds of years, an expression of their
faith in the rebuilding of the Temple.
The Sages said about it: "The Divine Presence
never moves from the Western Wall."
The Temple Mount continues to be the focus
of prayer for Jews from all over the world."
There are tables set up with additional prayer materials, and I saw women young and old, daviting or crying, chanting or standing in silence before the Wall....and I thought about how it has been like this for so long....and I saw little pieces of paper folded up, sealed shut with a kiss and wedged into whatever empty crevasse is accessible in the Wall, or on the floor before the Wall...I desperately wanted to read every one of those prayers - I was curious to know what was on each woman's mind....it was a really strange feeling to be in the middle of that, isolated and yet connected on some deeper spiritual level.
If this wall doesn't bowl you over, then seeing the people worshipping there will.
To get to the Western Wall, you must pass through the Israeli guards, where you'll be frisked and your backpack or purse searched. This is not because it's a dangerous area to be - it's just a standard security precaution for which I am appreciative. Once you pass Security, you'll be walking across the open plaza where straight ahead and beyond some buildings, you can see a glimpse of the Dome of the Rock.
To your right is the famous Western Wall (dubbed Wailing Wall both for the tragedies that have befallen it and its people, as much as for the actual crying that goes on there today). I was so excited to be there that I charged right through to the men's section - I had no idea it is cordoned off by gender! When I crossed over to my designated "womens' section", I went right up to the wall (sometimes if it's crowded, you have to search for your little piece!) and passed my hand across it, trying to absorb what centuries of mystery and history can transmit to the human soul in search of itself and its Maker....I lay my face against the wall and breathed in the smell of it and the sounds of the other women praying and touching it and the reverberations of the hundreds of hopes and wishes pinned against it....it really can move you to tears.
Near the Western Wall, Jewish feelings begin to surface, often to the first time, without our knowing how and why. This essential experience is both deep and mysterious: touching the stones of this still-standing ancient wall; identifying with the nation, the heritage, and the essence of life. Thoughts and feelings become clear at the Western Wall, in their pure proportions. Here is the place where lament and joy, despair and hope - unite.
In 1967, soon after the liberation of the Old City, began the operation of clearing the Western Wall Plaza. Many tons of dirt and refuse were laboriously removed by hand to expose magnificent underground structures, comprising a continuous chain wrote in stone stretching from the Hasmonean era until our time.
These excavations reveald the entire length of the Western Wall - 488 meters - in all its glory.
When Rome destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E., only one outer wall remained standing. Just an outer wall surrounding the Temple Mount. For the Jews, however, this remnant of what was the most sacred building in the Jewish world quickly became the holiest spot in Jewish life. Throughout the centuries, Jews from throughout the world traveled to Palestine, and immediately headed for the Kotel ha-Ma'aravi (the Western Wall) to thank God. The prayers offered at the Kotel were so heartfelt that non-Jews began calling the site the "Wailing Wall."
The area near the Wall is divided by a fence — a mechitza — with a small area for women only on one side and a larger area for men on the other. If you don't have a yarmulke, a box at the entrance has paper ones to use while you're near the Wall.
Go right up to the Wall and feel the texture of the stones and take in the awesome size of the structure. The largest stone in the wall is 45 feet long, 15 feet deep, 15 feet high, and weighs more than one million pounds. The Wall is 20 meters high.
Entering a tunnel at the prayer plaza, one turns northwards into a medieval complex of subterranean vaulted spaces and a long corridor with rooms on either side. Incorporated into this complex is a Roman and medieval structure of vaults, built of large dressed limestone. The vaulted complex ends at Wilson's Arch, named after the explorer who discovered it in the middle of the 19th century.
The Western Wall or simply The Kotel, is a retaining wall in Jerusalem that dates from the time of the Jewish Second Temple (516 BCE - 70 CE). It is sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall, referring to Jews mourning the destruction of the Temple. The Western Wall is part of the bigger religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem called Har ha-Bayit (the Temple Mount) to Jews and Christians, or Al-Haram al-Qudsi al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) to Muslims. The Western Wall derives its holiness due to its proximity to the sacred Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount, which is the Most Holy Place in Judaism. This makes the Western Wall the holiest location in Judaism which is currently generally accessible to the Jewish people for prayer.
Jewish men and women can be found praying at the wall at every hour, though a mechitza, or divider, separates the men's section of the wall from the women's section. B'nai Mitzvah celebrations can also be held here, and some people of different ages travel from all over the world to have their ceremonies at the Kotel. It is also a tradition to deposit a slip of paper with wishes or prayers on it into the cracks of the wall. Looking closely, one can see hundreds of tiny, folded papers stuffed inside the grooves.
The Temple in Jerusalem was the most sacred building in Judaism. Herod the Great built vast retaining walls around Mount Moriah, expanding the small, quasi-natural plateau on which the First and Second Temples stood into the wide open spaces of the Temple Mount seen today.
Another world famous aspect of the Temple Mount complex is the Western Wall, the nearest many Jews are allowed to pray to the Holy of Holies. It is believed that the Roman Emperor Titus left the wall standing as a reminder to the defeated Jews that he had conquered them. Jews also hold that the wall survived because of God's promise to them that some part of the Temple would always remain standing as testament to his bond with his people.
The Western Wall is exceptionally important in the Jewish religion. Jewish children from all over the world come here to have their Bar Mitzvahs (Bat Mitzvah for girls). Jews have prayed here for centuries, placing tightly folded pieces of paper into the cracks in the wall with their requests to God. Often the prayers are for the return of the Third Temple, and three times a day there are Jewish services where God is asked to rebuild the Temple. It is these, sometimes tearful and vocal, prayers that led to the Western Wall gaining the nickname Wailing Wall among non-Jewish visitors.
Today all are allowed to visit the Western Wall, Jews and non-Jews alike, although men and women must pray in separate sections. There is also serious security, both on entering and once inside, but that is understandable given the current situation and the highly sensitive nature of the location. Access is also free.
Rooms and public halls were discovered, as well as a section of a Second Temple road, a Hasmonean water tunnel, a pool, and many other finds.
Here is a domain rich in roots - it was on this mountain that Avraham was worned not to "lift your hand against the youth". Issac. Here, at the foot of the Temple Mount, one can hear the songs and music of the Levites. The courses of stones evoke memories of King David and King Solomon, Ezra and Nehemiah, the Maccabees and the Sages. Kings and prophets walked along these paths.
This is the only remaining portion of the original temple structure built in 515 BCE and enlarged by King Herod in the 1st Century BCE. The original temple built by King Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th Century BC. The second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Today, the Western Wall is venerated by Jews and its used as a great outdoor temple. Jews from all over the world come here to pray and to place small prayers written on paper into cracks in the wall. This view is the Exterior side showing the masonary (stone work) used in the construction.
For more on the West Wall and another view, please see my main Israel Page
See the Wailing Wall in the Old City, enter through Dung Gate. Pass through the security and metal detectors - get ready to take EVERYTHING out of your pockets. Cement barriers separate the worshippers from the plaza, where prayer requests are written on tiny peices of paper then folded up and lodged between wall stones.
Above is The Temple Mount or Dome of the Rock that houses the rock that Abraham was going to sacrifice Issac on and to the South is the Al Aqsa Mosque.
To left is the entrance for The Underground Tunnel Tour.
The western wall (also known as the wailing wall and in hebrew it is Ha'kotel Ha'Ma'aravi is a holy place for the jewish people because it is the remains of the holy temple of the jews (Beit Ha'mikdash).
The wall is something like 20 meters high and is very close to the muslim's holy place Al-aqsa mosque and the dome of the rock.
Jews from Israel and from all over the world come to pray in this place , they put a small paper with a wish for god.
btw - this is also a holy place for the muslims because Muhamed the prophet came here and his horse stayed here while he went to the Al Aqsa mosque and they call it Al Buraq.
Either if you are jewish or not, the Kotel (the Hebrew name for the Wailing Wall) is an impressive place. It is one of the retaining walls of the Temple Mount on which the second Jewish Temple was built by King Herod. The temple was destroyed in the year 70 by the Romans. The Kotel started to become a holy place for the jewish people in the 15th century, when the Ottoman sultan Suleyman ruled Jerusalem. Suleyman gave the jewish people officially a right to use the wall as a place of prayer.
The part of the wall that can be seen nowadays consists of 24 rows of stones; the oldest and biggest are the lowest rows. It is interesting to know that, underneath the ground there are 19 more rows of stones, which reach down to a paved road. This once was the foot of the wall.
The big square ("Western Wall Plaza") became a fact only in 1967. Before that time, there was a densely populated Arab quarter named Maghrabi in front of the Wall. There was only a small corridor between the neigborhood and the Wall, making it look bigger and more impressive then it does today. Between 1948 and 1967, Jewish people were not allowed to visit their most holy place. After the Six Days War, Israel took the Old City and the Kotel; the 14th century Maghrabi neighborhood was destroyed by the Israeli Defence Forces; the population was forced to leave, making it one of the many sad stories in the history of Jerusalem.
Nowadays, the Kotel is again the heart of the Jewish religion, and one of the main tourist attractions in the Old Town.