The Western WallThe Western Wall
is the western retaining wall
of the Temple Mount, the one that was closest to the Holy of Holies when the
Temple stood. Traditionally, it is regarded as the only remnant of the Temple.
Since the destruction of the Temple, the Western Wall has served as an
inspiration to the Jewish people. Since the Six Day War (June, 1967), the
Western Wall Plaza has returned to being a place of prayer.
The Length of the Western Wall
The entire Western
Wall is approximately 488 meters (1,600 feet) long. In the past, it stood as
high as 60 meters (about 197 feet); it now stands only 40 meters (131 feet) tall
at its highest exposed point, with the rest remaining underground. The Western
Wall Plaza of today is 56.5 meters (187 feet) long and the Wall at the plaza
stands approximately 19 meters (62 feet) high.
The Western Wall Plaza
For many generations until
the Six Day War, the prayer area in front of the Western Wall consisted only of
a narrow alleyway in the Moslem (Moghrabi) neighborhood of the Old City,
measuring just 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) wide and 28 meters (92 feet) long. After
the Six Day War, the Western Wall Plaza
was greatly expanded and renovated for the many people who come to visit and
Apart from at the Western Wall
Plaza, there are two other exposed above-ground sections along the length of the
Western Wall: the Southern Section of the
, and the Small Western
in the Muslim Quarter.
The Height of the Wall
At the Western Wall Plaza,
the height of the Western Wall from its foundation underground to its top
consists of 45 stone courses, 28 of them above ground, and 17
The height of this section of the Western Wall, from its
foundation underground to its peak height, is estimated at 32 meters (105 feet).
The Stones of the Western WallThe stones of the Western Wall
exposed at the Western Wall Plaza, as well as those to the south of it and those
in the Moslem Quarter, date from different periods. They teach us about the
changes that occurred at the Western Wall from the time of the Temple's
destruction. The stone courses that are underground, as well as some of the
courses that are above ground, are the original Western Wall stones from the
time of Herod. Other
stones were placed on top of them during
various periods of time. It is possible to distinguish between the original
Western Wall stones and the others by their size and the manner in which they
chiseled. A chiseled outer edge frames every stone hewn in the
Herodian style. These original stones are of different sizes. They range from 80
centimeters to 13.6 meters in length, and from 1.1 to 3.5 meters in height. The
depth of the stones is approximately 4.6 meters.
The Western Wall Tunnels
In the Western Wall Tunnels
, visitors can see the
, the name given to a row of huge stones in the
tunnels. The stones in the "Master Course"
are the largest building
stones ever found in Israel.
The largest stone is 13.6 meters (44.6 feet)
long and approximately 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) wide. It weighs 570 tons.
The remains of four ancient gates
, described by Josephus, can be
found along the Western Wall: Barclay's
, Warren's Gate
, and the
gates above Wilson's Arch
and Robinson's Arch
. These gates and arches are
named for prominent nineteenth-century researchers of Jerusalem.
Entrance Gates to the Temple Mount
Today, there are
six entrance gates
along the Western
Wall leading to the Temple Mount. These gates date from the Early Muslim period
until the Ottoman period.