The Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small western segment of the walls surrounding the area called the Temple Mount (or Har Habayit) by Jews, Christians and most Western sources, and known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Al-Haram ash-Sharīf).
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place to which Jews turn during prayer. The original, natural and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for an ever larger Temple compound to be built at its top.
This process was finalised by Herod the Great, who created an enclosing, almost rectangular set of retaining walls, which supported extensive substructures and earth fills, then hidden under a vast paved platform. Of the four retaining walls, the western one is considered to be closest to the former Temple, which makes it the most sacred site recognized by Judaism outside the Temple Mount itself.
The wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries; the earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dates back to the 4th century. From the mid-19th century onwards, attempts to purchase rights to the wall and its immediate area were made by various Jews, but none was successful. With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish and Muslim communities, the latter being worried that the wall was being used to further Jewish nationalistic claims to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is the remains of a retaining wall that encompassed part of the grounds of the second Temple. It called the Wailing Wall because for centuries the Jews have gathered on the only wall of their Loss Holy Temple after the Roman after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
The Wall is 15 Meters ( 50 F). According to the Roman Jewish historian Josephus, construction of the walls took 11 years, during which time it rained in Jerusalem only at night so as not to interfere with the workers’ progress.
The Babylonians destroyed the first Temple, which is often called the Temple of Solomon, about 2600 years ago. The second Temple was built after the Jews returned from their exile in Babylon about 2500 years ago. Initially it was a modest Temple but about five centuries later, King Herod the Great, who was appointed king over the land of Israel by the Romans, whose empire included Israel, rebuilt the second Temple in a much more grandiose fashion.
Titus , in the year 70 A.D. spared this part of the wall with its huge blocks to show future generations the greatness of the Roman soldiers who had been able to destroy the rest of the building. During the Roman period Romans were not allowed to come to Jerusalem. During the Byzantine period, however, they were allowed to come once a year, on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple, to lament the dispersion of their people and weep over the ruins of the holy temple. This section of the Wall therefore became known as the wailing wall.
The great Herodian stones rest one on top of another without cement between them to hold them in place. Although the Wall is high, more than half of the Wall is below the present day ground level.
Access to the Wall was forbidden from 1948 to 1967, when Jordan controlled Jerusalem. But after the Six Day War of 1967, Israel took control of the area, and the Wall is now open to the public. It has become a meeting place for communal prayers and many public celebrations. The Western Wall is never deserted. At any time day or night, there are Jews there, standing in front of the Wall, in devout prayer, or placing written messages on paper into the crevices between the stones.