....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.
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.
When I was in Jerusalem I of course visited the Western Wall. You have surely heard about it. It's an important place for the Jews and many are praying there. You can write a prayer on a paper and put it into the wall if you want. There is countless of prayers and when the wall is full, they will empty it and burn the prayers. It is very cool to be there. I recommend you to visit the Wailing Wall if you are in Jerusalem.
Western Wall/Wailing Wall, this is the Judaic Jerusalem equivalent of the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Moslem Dome on the Rock. Of course, it predates the other two sites. This is an exposed stretch of the retaining wall Herod the Great built to support the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans. The large plaza to the west of the wall was bulldozed in June 1967 to allow easier access - before houses literally abutted the wall. The Western Wall is divided into male and female areas. It is a popular spot for bar mitzvahs. Photography - except on Shabbat - is permitted, but use some discretion.
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.
The Western Wall, known in Hebrew as Kotel hama'aravi is a wonderfuly atmospheric place to visit, especially on a Friday night, when it is humming with activity. One Shabbat, I was there a group of youths came down singing & dancing, which was great.
Its open to all, Jewish or not, understandably, there are check points on the all the entrances . Men & women are segregated for prayer. The larger (and more shaded!!) area on the northern end is for men & the smaller area for women.
If you look closely at the photo you can see peices of paper in the cracks in the temple wall, these are written prayers.
There is seating opposite the Western wall, where one can sit & the people watching is fascinating.
In the shadows of the western wall, and stretching outside the current walls of the Old City is the Jerusalem Archaelogical Park. Formerly just the Ophel Archaelogical Park, new diggings round the south-western corner of the Western Wall and the building of a state of the art virtual exhibition centre (Davidson Centre) has led to this massive expansion and is incorporated into the Jerusalem Archaelogical Park, developed round the oldest settlement of Jerusalem.
The entrance to the Park is just inside Dung Gate and the access road to the Western Wall. Start at the Davidson Centre, which includes models of Jerusalem as well as introductory films about ancient Jerusalem. Once outside, the walls of the 2nd Temple (and which are now the walls of the Mosque) tower above you. Here you will find the original foundations of shops, buildings etc that lined Herodian Street - the main throughfare of Jerusalem at the time of the 2nd Temple. Some 20 metres above you is what was once the main entrance into the Temple complex (access now destroyed - when the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple, they dislodged the stones that formed the access ramp, hurling the huge stones to the streets below. Many of these rocks remain in situ today).
'Round the corner' is the Umayyad Palace foundations from the 6th & 7th century - now an immense courtyard of foundations and columns with access to the city ramparts. Through a small gate is access to the Ophel Archaelogical Park, which is officially outside the walls of the Old City. Abutting the southern wall of the 2nd Temple, the Hula Gates are to be found (or the remains - they are now bricked in), which were the 2nd and 3rd entrances to the Temple.
It's a huge complex - and although there is little more than foundations and exterior walls to be found, its a fascinating new addition to what's on offer in Jerusalem.
Entrance fee: NIS 30, Open Sunday-Thursday, 9am - 5pm, Friday 9am - 3pm
The WAILING WALL in Jerusalem , the most sacred place for the Jewish people. Don't turn you back to the wall.
Unfortunately we visited the Wailing Wall on Saturday, and it was forbidden to take photos (see the photo taken nearby). If you come close to the wall you will see that in every hole and in every deepening there is a piece of paper with a wish written on it. I put my wish into one of the hole. Believe it or not - IT CAME TRUE!!!
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.
Welcome to the most holy Jewish site in the city. This wall is all that remains of the retaining wall that held the temple complex. There has not been a Jewish temple on site since 70AD. This is now an open air synagogue. If you are a visitor like me, you will need to wear the head covering. There will be some available for you to borrow before approaching the wall. Males go to one place while females go to another. Behind this wall is the Temple Mount which contains the golden Dome of the Rock. The most holy Islamic site in the city is adjacent to the holy Jewish site, and historically this has meant trouble. If you want to see the focus of the troubles with the "peace process", here is where you need to go. A visit to the wall will be a fascinating part of your trip here. Notice the cracks in and between the stones. Probably every nook and cranny will contain a folded prayer note. if you wish, you may bring your own written prayer here and insert it into the stones. It was quiet when I showed up here. Someone did ask for a donation while i was at the wall. They apparently thought I gave too little--oh well, you cannot please everyone. When we approached the Western Wall via the Dung Gate, there was understandably a security check point. Be prepared for this when you visit.