The Western Wall - History and Facts | History Hit

The Western Wall

Jerusalem, Jerusalem District, Israel

The Western Wall is the remaining wall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem built by King Herod.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Western Wall

The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, Ha Kotel and the Al-Buraq Wall, is the sole remaining part of a wall of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

History of the Western Wall

The Second Temple, which stood from 516 BC, was the holiest of Jewish sites and was built to replace the First Temple. In around 20-19 BC, King Herod renovated the Second Temple, this being the time when the Western Wall was added. For this reason, the temple is sometimes known as Herod’s Temple.

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans led by Titus in 70 AD, and Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem were sent into exile. The Western Wall being one of very few surviving remnants. The name “the Wailing Wall” refers to the fact that it is a place where Jews came to mourn the fall of the Second Temple during the Ottoman Period – it doesn’t tend to be used by the Jewish community today.

In 1948, the Old City of Jerusalem was taken by the Jordanians, and the Jewish population was expelled. Israeli paratroopers stormed the site during the Six-Day War in 1957, and almost immediately  bulldozed Arab houses surrounding the neighbourhood. Originally the wall had houses pressed up against it: it would have appeared quite differently,

The Western Wall today

The Western Wall is the holiest of Jewish sites, always surrounded by worshippers, many of whom place prayers in its crevices. While the lower half of what can now be seen dates to the time of Herod, the upper parts of the Wall were added in the seventh century AD. Look out for Bar Mitzvahs taking place on the holy site.

Whether you’re Jew or gentile, the wall thrums with history and spirituality: pray yourself, or take some time to watch those who find significance here. Remember to dress modestly (men must cover their heads to approach the wall) and the need for respect goes without saying.

In addition to the external part of the Western Wall, visitors can also enter the Western Wall Tunnels, which show the extended parts of the structure.

Getting to the Western Wall today

The Western Wall is part of the Temple Mount complex: to access it you’ll need to go through security. Temple Mount is part of Jerusalem’s Walled Old City: the nearest entrance is the Dung Gate if you’re driving, and there’s normally parking to be found near Gethsemane. Buses stop on Ma’ale HaShalom St outside.

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