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Jerusalem Western Wall: The Place Where History Is in Every Stone

Jerusalem is known as the Holy City because of the many places it has that are sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians throughout the world. However, even though the entire city is Holy, there are certain areas of particular importance, such as the Jerusalem Western Wall.

Millions of people from all over the globe have traveled long distances just to get a chance to stand in front of the Western Wall in the hope that their prayers will be heard. In this article, we will look at the Jerusalem Western Wall history, and important facts that you need to know before you set off for the Holy City.

The Western Wall’s History

The history of the City of Gold is marred by battles and destruction followed by rebuilding efforts by many great men in history.

Also known as the Kotel, the Western Wall is a testament to such a tragic history as it is the last remaining structure of the Second Temple which was expanded by King Herod in 20 BCE only to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

After the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, people continued to pray for hundreds of years in front of the small area of the wall that could be seen.

The importance of this single remaining structure is difficult to comprehend. Not only is it regarded as a Holy place because it was part of the Great Temple, but some even go as far as claiming it was at this very spot that Abraham bound Isaac in preparation for sacrifice.

Centuries later, in 1967, after six days of conflict, the Israelis excavated larger sections of the wall and cleared large areas around the wall to create the Western Wall Plaza which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jerusalem today.

Photos: Noam Chen

Wall Measurements and Structure

After many years of wars, destruction, human activity, and the general passage of time, the Western Wall as we know it today is only a shadow of its former glory. Much of it was destroyed forever or remains buried under the ground.

If you were to visit Jerusalem today, the following is what you would see of the Kotel:

Hight and Width

The wall is currently about 160 feet long and 60 feet high. However, a large section of the wall remains buried beneath the ground so the wall is in reality much higher than that.

The Stones

When King Solomon built the Temple in 957 BCE he used meleke limestone stones, most of which weigh between two and eight tons. The biggest block on the Kotel is one of the biggest building blocks in the world.

The Exposed Areas

The exposed part of the Wall, which is used for prayers, consists of 29 layers of stone that were added during different periods. It is around 60 feet high, but if we include the buried section it comes to 104 feet!

Hakotel Hakatan

There is another smaller section of the wall called Hakotel Hakatan that is located in the Muslim Quarter of Old Jerusalem, although it remains an important Jewish place of worship. Carbon dating puts the construction of the wall to around the same time as the Second Temple was built. It is located just a two-minute walk from the Dome of The Rock.

The Other Side of the Western Wall

The Southern Wall is 922 feet long and was built by King Herod during the construction of the Second Temple. In 1967, archaeologist Benjamin Mazar excavated an enormous flight of stairs that leads to the Southern Wall coming from the south. The Southern Wall had to undergo some repairs in the 21st century after a bulge was noticed that was compromising the structural integrity of the wall. Jordan was tasked with the duty of repairing it and the work is noticeable as white patches.

The Dress Code

Modest dressing is required for both men and women who want to pray at the Western Wall. Men are required to cover their heads while women should cover their shoulders and legs.

Bar Mitzvahs in the Western Wall

Usually, a Bar Mitzvah is held in a local synagogue when a Jewish boy turns 13 years old. However, A few lucky young men are fortunate enough to enjoy the unique experience of having their Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall. Over the years, thousands of young men have recited their verses at the Kotel in front of their family and friends.

The Wall’s Location

The Western is perhaps the most important religious structure in the Jewish religion. It is part of the Temple that was constructed by King Herod and is located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Western Wall Tunnels

To research the Western Wall and its antiquities further, tunnels were dug along the subterranean sections of the Kotel. Today visitors can walk through these amazing tunnels and see the Western Wall from a different and Unique perspective

Tunnel Tours

If you want to take part in the amazing experience of the Tunnel Tours, you can make your booking at thekotel.org (Tunnel Tours Jerusalem Western Wall) and reserve your tickets. The admission fee for adults is about $10, while children, students, security personnel, and the elderly pay about $7.

Interesting Facts About the Kotel

Here are some interesting facts about the Kotel: • Women were only recently allowed to pray at the Western Wall Jerusalem Women's section after centuries of being denied access • The Western Wall is over 2000 years old, dating back to its construction in 19 BC • The Kotel gets more than 1 million notes and prayers placed in its crevices each year • A rabbi walks along the Wall twice a year to remove the notes left by worshipers

Entrances to the Temple Mount

There are twelve gates to the Temple Mount of which one, the Bab as-Sarai was last open during Ottoman rule but is currently closed to the public.

Summary

Your visit to the Holy City will remain incomplete if you do not get the chance to visit the Western Wall at least once to marvel at the amazing structure that has withstood decades of conflict and is now one of the cornerstones of Jewish tradition. Plan your journey to Jerusalem now and book a room at one of the beautiful Isrotel hotels in Jerusalem.

Photos: Noam Chen