Over two thousand years ago the Second Temple was standing in Jerusalem, on Mt. Moriah. In the first century AD it was completely rebuilt by King Herod, a magnificent structure. In the year 70 AD the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, who had just crushed the Jewish Rebellion. All that remained after the destruction of the Temple was part of the western part of the wall surrounding the Temple grounds.
For two thousand years, when Jews were scattered all over the world (after being exiled from their homeland by the Romans), they used to direct their prayers to this remaining outer wall of the Temple, the Western Wall, which then became the Wailing Wall, the wall where Jews were mourning their loss and praying for a better future.
To this very day this is the focal point for every Jew wherever he may be. Jews from every corner of the world come here, pray, write down their wishes on small paper notes and put them between the mighty stones of the Wall. And mighty they are, testimony to the terrific builder that King Herod was.
The Western Wall is the only part left of the ramparts that surrounded the holy Temple of the Jews built by Solomon and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Jews gather here to weep and pray on these ruins. It was the Christians who named it the "Wailing Wall" because of all the tears shed by the Jews. The Jews call it Ha-Kotel Ha-Maaravi.
The Jews believe there is a divine presence hovering above it and that the dew drops that cover the hyssop and wild caper plants growing between the stones are tears being shed for the sorrow of Israel.
The wall area is divided into the men's and women's side, if you aren't paying attention (like I wasn't) you will raise quite a commotion if you enter the wrong side...
Each year on the 9th of Av (July-August), there are at least ten thousand people gathered at the Kotel to say prayers of mourning.
One postman delivers and places all mail addressed to God or the Wailing Wall and places is in the crevices in the Wall. You can visit www.westernwall.org and sent a prayer you can have placed in the Wailing Wall.
This description of the Western Wall tunnel was taken from the website as it explains the route much better than I. This tunnel runs 1,000 feet along the wall and shouldn't be missed.
Entering a tunnel at the prayer plaza, you turn northward 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. It includes an earlier Herodian room, constructed of well-dressed stones, with double openings and walls decorated with protruding pilasters. The vaulted complex ends at Wilson's Arch, named after the explorer who discovered it in the middle of the 19th century. The arch, supported by the Western Wall, was 12.8 m. wide and stood high above the present-day ground level. Josephus Flavius mentions a bridge which connected the Temple Mount with the Upper City to the west during the Second Temple period. This bridge once carried water via a conduit from Solomon's Pools; it was destroyed during the Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-70 CE) and rebuilt during the early Islamic period.
Beyond Wilson's Arch, a large hall, part of a Mamluk period construction, was cleared of debris and a large water cistern was removed, revealing the Herodian Western Wall.
From this point, along the outer face of the Herodian western wall of the Temple Mount, a long narrow tunnel was dug slowly and with much care. As work progressed under the buildings of the present Old City, the tunnel was reinforced.. A stretch of the western wall - 300 m. long - was revealed in pristine condition, exactly as constructed by Herod
At the end of this man-made tunnel, a 20 m. long section of a paved road and an earlier, rock-cut Hasmonean aqueduct leading to the Temple Mount were uncovered. Today one can proceed along it to a public reservoir and from there, a short new tunnel leads outside to the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter.
The Jewish Quarter is a maze of alleyways, small stalls, and is full of synagogues. It has an oriental atmosphere, but with western influences.
During the fighting in 1948 for independence, this small area suffered much destruction and was then deserted by the residents when the city was partitioned. In 1967, the Israeli government began it's renovation to preserve the historical remains. During the excavations they found dwellings from Herodian times. The most prominent feature of the Jewish Quarter is the Western Wall.
If you're in the Old City on Tuesdays, head for the Western (Wailing) Wall - the traditional day for Bar Mitzvah celebrations at the Holiest of Jewish sites. As the 13 year old boy reaches maturity and manhood, and is now seen as old enough to be 'responsible' for himself, no longer the spiritual responsibility of his parents, so many Bar Mitzvahs take place at the Wall.
It is mainly overseas 'pilgrims' that undertake the celebration here and it is a cacophony of noise, celebration and joy. It's quite an amazing sight, with many celebrations taking place simultaneously.
Though from the outside it's nothing special, this church is a major destination for all Christian Pilgrims in Jerusalem. This is the place were Jesus is supposed to have been buried and where He resurrected. Inside there is a kiosk with a piece of the sepulcher stone. Be prepared to a long queue, as there are always lots of pilgrims.
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.
....or in some cases crying out silently. At the Western Wall crying, wailing, praying is the name of the game and as long as your wearing the proper head gear people of all faiths and beliefs are invited to take part in experiencing one of the most holiest and revered places in all the world. The Wailing Wall (as its most commonly called) is what remains of King Herod's Second Period Temple. Its also the nearest to the holy of holies that the Jews are allowed to worship, although the nearest point is now located inside the Kotel Tunnel. Here you will find devoted Orthodox Jews worshiping at almost anytime of the day and night, additionally there are many other Jews worshiping in their own ways as well. There are also plenty of tourists milling around as well, they are easy to spot out as they generally stand a respectful distance away and are wearing the mandatory paper hats that everyone must wear to enter this sacred site. The Wailing Wall is open 24hrs a day and the nearest entrance is the Dung Gate.
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.
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.
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
The famous Western Wall, otherwise known as the Wailing Wall because of the tragedies that the people of Israel have had to contend with as well as the actual crying of its visitors. Everywhere within reach in the wall little pieces of paper are folded up and wedged into whatever empty cracks and crevasses are accessible in the Wall. The current wall is only partly the original wall. It is 18 metres high and the 11 lower rows are original Herodian work that took 11,000 people working three years to build.
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.
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.