The Wailing Wall
The holiest and most significant site in Jewish religion, also known as "The Wailing Wall". The total length of the wall is 488m; out of which only 56.5m are exposed at the western wall prayer plaza. The rest of the wall runs mostly underground, under the Muslim quarter of the old city. From a technical point of view, it is the western retaining wall of the temple mount, where the Jewish second temple stood until destroyed by the roman army in the year of 70. However, such description fails to convey the deep spiritual importance of the wall as a symbol of the Jewish longing to Zion throughout history.
Open 24 hours all year. On Sabbath and Jewish holidays it is prohibited to use cameras and electrical devices. Free of charge.
During the 1st century BCE, King Herod, considered one of the great builders of the ancient world, erected the second Jewish temple. In order to construct the foundations, Herod flattened a hill, doubling its surface and creating a 144,000 square meter podium. The podium was strengthened with stone arches and filled with dirt, and massive retaining walls were built around it. Experts assess the weight of some of the monumental foundation bricks to be hundreds of tons, thus posing the inevitable question that remains without a clear answer - which technique allowed this some 2000 years ago?
The choice of the temple mount as site of the first and second Jewish temples was all but random. According to Jewish tradition, the temples were erected around the foundation stone, where the creation of the world miraculously began. The holy of holies, the most sacred area of the temple, was built around the stone. The temple mount is also considered to be the biblical Mount Moriah, where the binding of Isaac occurred. Countless traditions, legends, religious texts and traveler accounts have contributed to the holiness of the site, which has become an emblem of the Jewish exile and the longing for Zion.
The western wall tunnels are the outcome of an ongoing excavation project the state of Israel initiated in order to reveal the full length of the western wall. The visitor enters the tunnels near the northern end of the western wall, and encounters the underground world adjacent to the ancient temple. Water reservoirs, ancient cisterns and massive courses of carved rock holding the temple mount's construction were revealed. A few prayer areas were allocated underground, enabling Jewish prayer as close as can be to the presumed location of the holy of holies.
Six day war
In 1948, during the Israeli war of independence, the residents of the Jewish quarter surrendered to the Jordanian forces. The old city of Jerusalem, with the exception of mount Zion, became part of the kingdom of Jordan until the six day war in 1967. Once again, the western wall turned into a symbol of Jewish longing and loss. In June 1967, Israeli paratroopers, headed by Commander Motta Gur stormed into the old city and liberated its quarters and the western wall. In one of the most famous photographs taken during the six day war, Israeli paratroopers are seen standing in uniform next to the ancient Wailing Wall.
Holy site – modest dress code.
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