Western Wall

Western Wall

Overview
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: , translit.
Transliteration
Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...

: ; Ashkenazic
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 pronunciation: Kosel; , translit.
Transliteration
Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...

: Ḥā'iṭ Al-Burāq, translat.
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

: The Buraq
Buraq
Al-Burāq is a mythological steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. The most commonly told story is how in the 7th century, Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi'raj or "Night Journey", which is...

 Wall) is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

's courtyard, and is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 outside of the Temple Mount itself. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 period, commonly believed to have been constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

, but recent excavations indicate that the works were not finished during Herod′s lifetime.
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Encyclopedia
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: , translit.
Transliteration
Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...

: ; Ashkenazic
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 pronunciation: Kosel; , translit.
Transliteration
Transliteration is a subset of the science of hermeneutics. It is a form of translation, and is the practice of converting a text from one script into another...

: Ḥā'iṭ Al-Burāq, translat.
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

: The Buraq
Buraq
Al-Burāq is a mythological steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. The most commonly told story is how in the 7th century, Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi'raj or "Night Journey", which is...

 Wall) is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

's courtyard, and is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 outside of the Temple Mount itself. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 period, commonly believed to have been constructed around 19 BCE by Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

, but recent excavations indicate that the works were not finished during Herod′s lifetime. The remaining layers were added from the 7th century onwards. The Western Wall refers not only to the exposed section facing a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter, but also to the sections concealed behind structures running along the whole length of the Temple Mount, such as the Little Western Wall
Little Western Wall
thumb|rightThe Little Western Wall, also known as HaKotel HaKatan and the Small Kotel, , is a Jewish religious site located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Iron Gate to the Temple Mount. The wall itself dates from the Second Temple period,...

–a 25 ft (8 m) section in the Muslim Quarter.

It has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries, the earliest source mentioning Jewish attachment to the site dating from 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
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between the Jewish community and the Muslim religious leadership, who were worried that the wall was being used to further Jewish nationalistic claims to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. Outbreaks of violence at the foot of the wall became commonplace and an international commission was convened in 1930 to determine the rights and claims of Muslims and Jews in connection with the wall. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the wall came under Jordanian control and Jews were barred from the site for 19 years until Israel captured the Old City in 1967.

Etymology



Early Jewish texts referred to a “western wall of the Temple”, but there is doubt whether the texts were referring to today’s Western Wall or to another wall which stood within the Temple complex. The earliest clear Jewish use of the term Western Wall as referring to the wall visible today was by the 11th-century Ahimaaz ben Paltiel
Ahimaaz ben Paltiel
Ahimaaz ben Paltiel was a Italian-Jewish liturgical poet and author of a family chronicle. Very little is known about his life. He came of a family some of whose members are well known in Jewish literature as scholars and poets; for example, Hananiel ben Amittai, and his nephew Amittai ben...

. The name “Wailing Wall”, and descriptions such as "wailing place" appeared regularly in English literature during the 19th century. The name Mur des Lamentations was used in French and Klagemauer in German. This term itself was a translation of the Arabic el-Mabka, or "Place of Weeping," the traditional Arabic term for the wall. This description stemmed from the Jewish practice of coming to the site to mourn and bemoan the destruction of the Temple
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

. During the 1920s with the growing Arab-Jewish tensions over rights at the wall, the Arabs began referring to the wall as al-Buraq. This was based on the tradition that the wall was the place where Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 tethered his miraculous winged steed, Buraq
Buraq
Al-Burāq is a mythological steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. The most commonly told story is how in the 7th century, Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi'raj or "Night Journey", which is...

.

Location and dimensions



The Western Wall commonly refers to a 187 foot (57 m) exposed section of ancient wall situated on the western flank of the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

. This section faces a large plaza and is set aside for prayer. In its entirety, however, the above ground portion of the Western Wall stretches for 1600 feet (488 m), most of which is hidden behind residential structures built along its length. Other revealed sections include the southern part of the Wall which measures approximately 80 metres (262 ft) and another much shorter section known as the Little Western Wall
Little Western Wall
thumb|rightThe Little Western Wall, also known as HaKotel HaKatan and the Small Kotel, , is a Jewish religious site located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Iron Gate to the Temple Mount. The wall itself dates from the Second Temple period,...

 which is located close to the Iron Gate. The wall functions as a retaining wall
Retaining wall
Retaining walls are built in order to hold back earth which would otherwise move downwards. Their purpose is to stabilize slopes and provide useful areas at different elevations, e.g...

, built to support the extensive renovations that Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 carried out around 19 BCE. Herod expanded the small quasi-natural plateau on which the First
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

 and Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

s stood into the wide expanse of the Temple Mount visible today.

At the Western Wall Plaza, the total height of the Wall from its foundation is estimated at 105 feet (32 m), with the exposed section standing approximately 62 feet (19 m) high. The Wall consists of 45 stone courses, 28 of them above ground and 17 underground. The first seven visible layers are from the Herodian period. This section of wall is built from enormous meleke
Meleke
Meleke — also transliterated melekeh or malaki — is a lithologic type of white, coarsely crystalline, thickly bedded limestone found in the Judean Hills in Israel and the West Bank. It has been used in the traditional architecture of Jerusalem since ancient times, especially in Herodian...

 limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 stones, possibly quarried at either Zedekiah's Cave
Zedekiah's Cave
Zedekiah's Cave – also known as Solomon's Quarries – is a underground meleke limestone quarry that runs the length of five city blocks under the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem...

 situated under the Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
The Muslim Quarter is one of the four quarters of the ancient, walled Old City of Jerusalem. It covers 31 hectares of the northeastern sector of the Old City. The quarter is the largest and most populous and extends from the Lions' Gate in the east, along the northern wall of the Temple Mount in...

 of the Old City or at Ramat Shlomo
Ramat Shlomo
Ramat Shlomo Heights) is a large Jewish housing development in northern East Jerusalem. The population, mostly ultra-Orthodox, is 18,000-20,000....

 four kilometers northwest of the Old City. Most of them weigh between two and eight ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

s each, but others weigh even more, with one extraordinary stone
Western Stone
The Western Stone, located in the northern section of Wilson's Arch, is a monolithic stone block forming part of the lower level of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Weighing 517 tonnes , it is one of the largest building blocks in the world. The stone is 13.6 meters long and 3 metres high and has...

 located in the northern section of Wilson's Arch
Wilson's Arch (Jerusalem)
Wilson's Arch is the modern name for the ancient stone arch whose top is still visible today, where it is supported against the Northeast corner of Jerusalem's Western Wall, so that it appears on the left to visitors facing the Wall...

 measuring 13 metres and weighing approximately 570 tons. Each of these stones is surrounded by fine-chiseled borders. The margins themselves measure between 5 and 20 cm (2 and 7.9 in) wide, with their depth measuring 1.5 centimetre (0.590551181102362 in). In the Herodian period, the upper 10 metres (33 ft) of wall were 1 metres (39 in) thick and served as the other wall of the double colonnade
Colonnade
In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building....

 of the plateau. This upper section was decorated with pilaster
Pilaster
A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile....

s, the remainder of which were destroyed at the beginning of the 7th century when the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

s reconquered Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem
The Siege of Jerusalem can refer to several historical events:*Sack of Jerusalem by biblical pharaoh Shishaq, identified as Shoshenq I of the Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt....

 from the Persians and their Jewish allies in 628.

The next four layers were added by Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

s in the 7th century. The next fourteen layers are from the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 period and their addition is attributed to Sir Moses Montefiore
Moses Montefiore
Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet, Kt was one of the most famous British Jews of the 19th century. Montefiore was a financier, banker, philanthropist and Sheriff of London...

 who in 1866 arranged that further layers be added “for shade and protection from the rain for all who come to pray by the holy remnant of our Temple”. The top three layers were placed by the Mufti of Jerusalem before 1967.

Construction 19 BCE



According to the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

 was built atop the Temple Mount in the 10th century BC
10th century BC
The 10th century BC started the first day of 1000 BC and ended the last day of 901 BC.- Overview :This period followed the Bronze Age collapse in the Near East, and the century saw the Early Iron Age take hold there. The Greek Dark Ages which had come about in 1200 BC continued. The Neo-Assyrian...

E and destroyed by the Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns in 586 BCE, and the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 completed and dedicated in 516 BCE. Around 19 BCE Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 began a massive expansion project on the Temple Mount. In addition to renovating and enlarging the Temple, he artificially expanded the platform on which it stood, resulting in an enlarged enclosure. Today's Western Wall formed part of the retaining perimeter wall of this platform. In 2011, Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of Roman coins minted well after Herod's death found under the massive foundation stones in the southern section of the wall inside a ritual bath which predates the construction of the renovated Temple Mount complex and was filled in to support the new walls. This indicates that Herod did not build the entire wall and that construction was not close to being complete when he died. The finds confirme the description by historian Josephus Flavius, which state that constructions were finished only during the reign of King Agrippa II
Agrippa II
Agrippa II , son of Agrippa I, and like him originally named Marcus Julius Agrippa, was the seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great, thus last of the Herodians. He was the brother of Berenice, Mariamne, and Drusilla...

, Herod’s great-grandson. Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, along with the rest of Jerusalem, in 70 CE, during the First Jewish-Roman War
First Jewish-Roman War
The First Jewish–Roman War , sometimes called The Great Revolt , was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of Judaea Province , against the Roman Empire...

.

Roman Empire and rise of Christianity 100–500 CE


In the early centuries of the Common Era
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

, after the Roman defeat of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, Jews were banned from Jerusalem. There is some evidence that Roman emperors in the 2nd and 3rd centuries did permit them to visit the city to worship on the Mount of Olives and sometimes on the Temple Mount itself. When the empire became Christian under Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

, they were given permission to enter the city once a year, on the ninth day
Tisha B'Av
|Av]],") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date...

 of the month of Av, to lament the loss of the Temple at the wall. The Bordeaux Pilgrim
Itinerarium Burdigalense
The Itinerarium Burdigalense is the oldest known Christian itinerarium, written by an anonymous pilgrim from Burdigala...

, written in 333 CE, suggests that it was probably to the perforated stone or the Rock of Moriah, "to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart". This was because an Imperial decree from Rome barred Jews from living in Jerusalem. Just once per year they were permitted to return and bitterly grieve about the fate of their people. Comparable accounts survive, including those by the Church Father, Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age...

 and by Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 in his commentary to Zephaniah
Book of Zephaniah
The superscription of the Book of Zephaniah attributes its authorship to “Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah” . All that is known of Zephaniah comes from the text. The superscription of the book is lengthier than...

 written in the year 392 CE. In the 4th century, Christian sources reveal that the Jews encountered great difficulty in buying the right to pray near the Western Wall, at least on the 9th of Av. In 425 CE, the Jews of the Galilee wrote to Byzantine empress Aelia Eudocia
Aelia Eudocia
Aelia Eudocia Augusta was the wife of Theodosius II, and a prominent historical figure in understanding the rise of Christianity during the beginning of the Byzantine Empire. Eudocia lived in a world where Greek paganism and Christianity were still coming together...

 seeking permission to pray by the ruins of the Temple. Permission was granted and they were officially permitted to resettle in Jerusalem.

Middle Ages 500–1500


There are several Jewish authors of the 10th and 11th centuries, e.g., Aaron ben Meïr
Aaron ben Meïr
Aaron ben Meïr was a Jewish rabbi, and a Nasi of the Palestinian Gaonate in the first half of the tenth century. His name was brought to light by several fragments discovered in various genizoth Aaron ben Meïr was a Jewish rabbi, and a Nasi (head of the Sanhedrin) of the Palestinian Gaonate in the...

, Samuel ben Paltiel, Solomon ben Judah
Solomon ibn Gabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol, also Solomon ben Judah , was an Andalucian Hebrew poet and Jewish philosopher with a Neoplatonic bent. He was born in Málaga about 1021; died about 1058 in Valencia.-Biography:...

 and others, who write about the Jews resorting to the Western Wall for devotional purposes. The Scroll of Ahimaaz, written in 1050 CE, distinctly describes the Western Wall as a place of prayer for the Jews. Shortly before the Crusader period
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 a synagogue stood at the site. Jewish pilgrim Isaac Chelo (1334), writes of an Arab king who conquered Palestine from the Christians. (He possibly refers to the capture of Jerusalem by Umar
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

 in 637.) The king had made an oath that should he succeed in conquering Jerusalem, he would restore the ruins of the Temple. After his victory, he sought out the ruins, but they had been hidden beneath heaps of rubbish. An old man approached the king saying "I will tell you where the Temple lies, but I want you to swear that you will leave us the Western Wall." After promising, the king was shown where the ruins lay buried. The king ordered the place be cleared and "built a magnificent mosque and left the Western Wall for the Jews, who resorted there to pray." Chelo also noted that "It is this Western Wall which stands before the temple of Omar ibn al Khattab
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

, and which is called the Gate of Mercy. The Jews resort thither to say their prayers, as Rabbi Benjamin has already related. Today, this wall is one of the seven wonders of the Holy City." He refers to Benjamin of Tudela
Benjamin of Tudela
Benjamin of Tudela was a medieval Jewish traveler who visited Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 12th century. His vivid descriptions of western Asia preceded those of Marco Polo by a hundred years...

 who, during the late Crusader Period in around 1167 CE, wrote that "In front of this place is the Western Wall, which is one of the walls of the Holy of Holies. This is called the Gate of Mercy, and hither come all the Jews to pray before the Wall in the open court". Shortly after the Siege of Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (1187)
On July 4, 1187 the Kingdom's army was defeated at the Battle of Hattin by Saladin and only Balian of Ibelin commanding a small number of soldiers remained in Jerusalem. The Siege of Jerusalem lasted from September 20 to October 2, 1187. On October 2, 1187 Balian of Ibelin surrendered Jerusalem to...

, in 1193, Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

’s son and successor al-Afdal
Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din
Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-din popularly known as Al-Afdal was one of seventeen sons of Saladin. He succeeded his father as the second emir of Damascus. He was the leader of the Ayyubids in the Battle of Cresson.-Biography:...

 established the land adjacent to the wall as a charitable trust
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

. It was named after an important mystic Abu Madyan Shu'aib
Abu Madyan
Abu Madyan , also known as Abū Madyan S̲h̲uʿayb, Abū Madyan, or Sidi Abu Madyan Shuayb ibn al-Hussein al-Ansari, was an influential Andalusian mystic and Sufist. Some even refer to him as the national figure of Maghreb mysticism as he was such a forerunner of Sufism in this geographical area...

 and dedicated to Moroccan settlers who had taken up residence there. Houses were built only four metres away from the wall. The first mention of the Islamic tradition that Buraq was tethered at the site is from the 14th century. A manuscript by Ibn Furkah, (d. 1328), refers to Bab al-Nab, an old name for a gate along the southwestern wall of the Haram al-Sharif. Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro
Obadiah ben Abraham
Obadiah ben Abraham of Bertinoro was a 15th-century rabbi best known for his popular commentary on the Mishnah, commonly known as "The Bartenura".He was born and lived in the second half of the 15th-century in Italy and died in Jerusalem, Palestine about 1500...

 writing in 1488, states "the Westen Wall, part of which is still standing, is made of great, thick stones, larger than any I have seen in buildings of antiquity in Rome or in other lands."

Ottoman period 1517–1917



In 1517, the Turkish Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 under Selim I
Selim I
Selim I, Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan, Hâdim-ül Haramain-ish Sharifain , nicknamed Yavuz "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" , was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to...

 conquered Jerusalem from the Mamluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

s who had held it since 1250. The Ottomans had a benevolent attitude towards the Jews, having welcomed thousands of Jewish refugees who had recently been expelled
Alhambra decree
The Alhambra Decree was an edict issued on 31 March 1492 by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by 31 July of that year.The edict was formally revoked on 16 December 1968, following the Second...

 from Spain by Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 and Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

 in 1492. Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

 was so taken with Jerusalem and its plight that he ordered a magnificent fortress-wall built around the entire city, today's Old City wall.

There are various accounts of Suleiman's efforts to locate the Temple's ruins. Rabbi Eliezer Nachman Puah, (ca. 1540), relates:

”I have been told that in the day of Sultan Suleiman the site of the Temple was not known and the Sultan had every corner of Jerusalem searched for it. One day the man in charge of the work, despairing after much searching and inquiring in vain, saw a woman coming with a basket of rubbish and filth upon her head. He asked her: “What are you carrying on your head?” – And she replied:
“Rubbish.”

“And to where are you carrying it?”

“To such and such a place.”

“Where do you live?”

“In Bethlehem.”

“Is there no dunghill between Bethlehem and this place?”

“It is a tradition among us that whoever takes a little rubbish to that place performs a meritorious act.”

The curiosity of the officer was aroused and he commanded a great number of men to remove the rubbish from that place...and the holy site was revealed. When the Sultan learned of this, he rejoiced greatly and ordered the place to be swept and sprinkled and the Western Wall washed with rosewater...”


In the second half of the 16th century, Suleiman the Magnificent gave the Jews rights to worship at the Western Wall and had his court architect Mimar Sinan build an oratory for them there.

In 1625 arranged prayers at the Wall are mentioned for the first time by a scholar whose name has not been preserved. Rabbi Gedaliah of Semitizi, who went to Jerusalem in the year 1699, writes that scrolls of the Law were brought to the Wall on occasions of public distress and calamity.

Over the centuries, land close to the Wall became built up. Public access to the Wall was through the Moroccan Quarter
Moroccan Quarter
The Moroccan Quarter or Mughrabi Quarter was an 800-year old neighborhood in the southeast corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, bordering on the western wall of the Temple Mount on the east , the Old City walls on the south , the Jewish Quarter to the west, and the Muslim Quarter to...

, a labyrinth of narrow alleyways. In May 1840 a firman issued by Ibrahim Pasha
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha was the eldest son of Muhammad Ali, the Wāli and unrecognised Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He served as a general in the Egyptian army that his father established during his reign, taking his first command of Egyptian forces was when he was merely a teenager...

 forbade the Jews to pave the passageway in front of the Wall. It also cautioned them against “raising their voices and displaying their books there.” They were, however, allowed “to pay visits to it as of old.”

Rabbi Joseph Schwarz writing in the mid-19th century records:

”This wall is visited by all our brothers on every feast and festival; and the large space at its foot is often so densely filled up, that all cannot perform their devotions here at the same time. It is also visited, though by less numbers, on every Friday afternoon, and by some nearly every day. No one is molested in these visits by the Mahomedans, as we have a very old firman from the Sultan of Constantinople that the approach shall not be denied to us, though the Porte obtains for this privilege a special tax, which is, however, quite insignificant.”


Over time the increased numbers of people gathering at the site resulted in tensions between the Jewish visitors who wanted easier access and more space, and the residents, who complained of the noise. This gave rise to Jewish attempts at gaining ownership of the land adjacent to the Wall.
In the late 1830s a wealthy Jew named Shemarya Luria attempted to purchase houses near the Wall, but was unsuccessful, as was Jewish sage Abdullah of Bombay who tried to purchase the Western Wall in the 1850s. In 1869 Rabbi Hillel Moshe Gelbstein settled in Jerusalem. He arranged that benches and tables be brought to the Wall on a daily basis for the study groups he organised and the minyan
Minyan
A minyan in Judaism refers to the quorum of ten Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations. According to many non-Orthodox streams of Judaism adult females count in the minyan....

 which he led there for years. He also formulated a plan whereby some of the courtyards facing the Wall would be acquired, with the intention of establishing three synagogues — one each for the Sephardim
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

, the Hasidim
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

 and the Perushim
Perushim
The Perushim were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, then under Ottoman rule...

. He also endeavoured to re-establish an ancient practice of “guards of honour”, which according to the mishnah in Middot
Middot (Talmud)
Middot is the tenth Mishnahic tractate of the Order of Kodashim. It has no Gemara either in the Jerusalem Talmud or the Babylonian Talmud. The tractate deals with the measurements of the Second Temple in Jerusalem....

, were positioned around the Temple Mount. He rented a house near the Wall and paid men to stand guard there and at various other gateways around the mount. However this set-up lasted only for a short time due to lack of funds or because of Arab resentment.

In 1877 the Mufti of Jerusalem accepted a Jewish offer to buy the Moroccan Quarter, but a dispute within the Jewish community prevented the agreement from going ahead. In 1887 a promising attempt was made by Baron Rothschild
Edmond James de Rothschild
Baron Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild was a French member of the Rothschild banking family. A strong supporter of Zionism, his generous donations lent significant support to the movement during its early years, which helped lead to the establishment of the State of Israel.- Early years :A...

 who conceived a plan to purchase and demolish the Moroccan Quarter as “a merit and honor to the Jewish People.” The proposed purchase was considered and approved by the Ottoman Governor of Jerusalem, Rauf Pasha, and by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Tahir Husseini. Even after permission was obtained from the highest secular and Muslim religious authority to proceed, the transaction was shelved after the authorities insisted that after demolishing the quarter no construction of any type could take place there, only trees could be planted to beautify the area. Additionally the Jews would not have full control over the area. This meant that they would have no power to stop people from using the plaza for various activities, including the driving of mules, which would cause a disturbance to worshippers. Other reports place the scheme's failure on Jewish infighting as to whether the plan would foster a detrimental Arab reaction. In 1895 Hebrew linguist and publisher Rabbi Chaim Hirschensohn
Chaim Hirschensohn
Rabbi Chaim Hirschensohn was born in Tzfat, , to Rabbi Yaakov Mordechai Hirschensohn, who had emigrated there from Pinsk in 1848...

 became entangled in a failed effort to purchase the Western Wall and lost all his assets. Even the attempts of the Palestine Land Development Company to purchase the environs of the Western Wall for the Jews just before the outbreak of World War I never came to fruition. In the first two months following the Ottoman Empire’s entry into the First World War, the Turkish governor of Jerusalem, Zakey Bey, offered to sell the Moroccan Quarter, which consisted of about 25 houses, to the Jews in order to enlarge the area available to them for prayer. He requested a sum of £20,000 which would be used to both rehouse the Muslim families and to create a public garden in front of the Wall. However, the Jews of the city lacked the necessary funds. A few months later, under Muslim Arab pressure on the Turkish authorities in Jerusalem, Jews became forbidden by official decree to place benches and light candles at the Wall. This sour turn in relations was taken up by the Chacham Bashi who managed to get the ban overturned.

Firmans issued regarding the Wall

Year Issued by Content
c.1560 Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

Official recognition of the right of Jews to pray by the Wall.
1840 Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha was the eldest son of Muhammad Ali, the Wāli and unrecognised Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He served as a general in the Egyptian army that his father established during his reign, taking his first command of Egyptian forces was when he was merely a teenager...

Forbidding the Jews to pave the passage in front of the Wall. It also cautioned them against “raising their voices and displaying their books there.” They were however allowed “to pay visits to it as of old.”
1841* Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt
Ibrahim Pasha was the eldest son of Muhammad Ali, the Wāli and unrecognised Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He served as a general in the Egyptian army that his father established during his reign, taking his first command of Egyptian forces was when he was merely a teenager...

“Of the same bearing and likewise to two others of 1893 and 1909.”
1889* Abdul Hamid II
Abdul Hamid II
His Imperial Majesty, The Sultan Abdülhamid II, Emperor of the Ottomans, Caliph of the Faithful was the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire...

That there shall be no interference with the Jews' places of devotional visits and of pilgrimage, that are situated in the localities which are dependent on the Chief Rabbinate, nor with the practice of their ritual.
1893* Confirming firman of 1889.
1909* Confirming firman of 1889.
1911 Administrative Council of the Liwa
Liwa (arabic)
Liwa or Liwa is an Arabic term meaning district, banner, or flag, a type of administrative division. It was interchangeable with the Turkish term "Sanjak" in the time of the Ottoman Empire. After the fall of the empire, the term was used in the Arab countries formerly under Ottoman rule...

Prohibiting the Jews from certain appurtenances at the Wall.

* These firmans were cited by the Jewish contingent at the International Commission, 1930, as proof for rights at the Wall, but they were subsequently rebuffed by the Muslims as “not having the bearing they allege.”

British rule 1917–48



In December 1917, British forces under Edmund Allenby
Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby
Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby GCB, GCMG, GCVO was a British soldier and administrator most famous for his role during the First World War, in which he led the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the conquest of Palestine and Syria in 1917 and 1918.Allenby, nicknamed...

 captured Jerusalem
Battle of Jerusalem (1917)
The Battle of Jerusalem developed from 17 November with fighting continuing until 30 December 1917 during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of World War I...

 from the Turks. Allenby pledged "that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred".

In 1919 Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

, anxious to enable Jews to access their sacred site unmolested, approached the British Military Governor of Jerusalem, Colonel Sir Ronald Storrs, and offered between £75,000 and £100,000 (approx. £5m in modern terms) to purchase the area at the foot of the Wall and rehouse the occupants. Storrs was enthusiastic about the idea because he hoped some of the money would be used to improve Muslim education. Although optimistic at first, negotiations broke down after strong Muslim opposition. Storrs wrote two decades later:
"The acceptance of the proposals, had it been practicable, would have obviated years of wretched humiliations, including the befouling of the Wall and pavement and the unmannerly braying of the tragi-comic Arab band during Jewish prayer, and culminating in the horrible outrages of 1929"


In early 1920, the first Jewish-Arab dispute over the Wall occurred when the Muslim authorities were carrying out minor repair works to the Wall’s upper courses. The Jews, while agreeing that the works were necessary, appealed to the British that they be made under supervision of the newly formed Department of Antiquities, because the Wall was an ancient relic.

In 1926 another abortive effort was made by Palestine Zionist Executive, Colonel F. H. Kisch, who envisaged buying the whole area adjacent to the Wall in order to create an open space with seats for aged worshippers to sit on. In 1928 the Zionist Organisation reported that John Chancellor
John Chancellor (British administrator)
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Robert Chancellor, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO was a British soldier and colonial official.After a career in the British Army's Corps of Royal Engineers, which included service on the North West Frontier and being Secretary of the Colonial Defence Committee, he became a...

, High Commissioner of Palestine, believed that the Western Wall should come under Jewish control and wondered “why no great Jewish philanthropist had not bought it yet”.

September 1928 disturbances



In 1922, a status quo agreement issued by the mandatory authority forbade the placing of benches or chairs near the Wall. The last occurrence of such a ban was in 1915, but the Ottoman decree was soon retracted after intervention of the Chacham Bashi. In 1928 the District Commissioner of Jerusalem, Edward Keith-Roach
Edward Keith-Roach
Edward Keith-Roach‏ . British Colonial administrator during the British mandate on Palestine. served as the governor of Jerusalem from 1926 to 1945. Nicknamed "Pasha of Jerusalem"...

, acceded to an Arab request to implement the ban. This led to a British officer being stationed at the Wall making sure that Jews were prevented from sitting. Nor were Jews permitted to separate the sexes with a screen. In practice, a flexible modus vivendi
Modus vivendi
Modus vivendi is a Latin phrase signifying an agreement between those whose opinions differ, such that they agree to disagree.Modus means mode, way. Vivendi means of living. Together, way of living, implies an accommodation between disputing parties to allow life to go on. It usually describes...

 had emerged and such screens had been put up from time to time when large numbers of people gathered to pray.

On 28 September 1928, the Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

, British police resorted to forcefully removing a screen
Mechitza
A mechitza in Jewish Halakha is a partition, particularly one that is used to separate men and women....

 used to separate men and women at prayer. Women who tried to prevent the screen being dismantled were beaten by the police, who used pieces of the broken wooden frame as clubs. Chairs were then pulled out from under elderly worshipers. The episode made international news and Jews the world over objected to the British action. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem
Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld
Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, also spelled Zonnenfeld, was the Chief Rabbi and co-founder of the Edah HaChareidis, Haredi Jewish community in Jerusalem, during the years of the British Mandate of Palestine. He was originally given the name "Chaim", however, the name "Yosef" was added to him while he...

 issued a letter on behalf of the Edah HaChareidis and Agudas Yisroel
World Agudath Israel
World Agudath Israel , usually known as the Aguda, was established in the early twentieth century as the political arm of Ashkenazi Torah Judaism, in succession to Agudas Shlumei Emunei Yisroel...

 strongly condemning the desecration of the holy site. Various communal leaders called for a general strike. A large rally was held in the Etz Chaim Yeshiva
Etz Chaim Yeshiva
Etz Chaim Yeshiva is an orthodox yeshiva located on Jaffa Road close to the Mahane Yehuda Market in downtown Jerusalem.-History:Etz Chaim Yeshiva was originally a Talmud Torah which was established in 1841 by the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shmuel Salant. For the first two years classes were held in...

, following which an angry crowd attacked the local police station in which they believed the British officer involved in the fiasco was sheltering.

Commissioner Edward Keith-Roach described the screen as violating the Ottoman status quo
Status quo
Statu quo, a commonly used form of the original Latin "statu quo" – literally "the state in which" – is a Latin term meaning the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are...

 that forbade Jews from making any construction in the Western Wall area. He informed the Jewish community that the removal had been carried out under his orders after receiving a complaint from the Supreme Muslim Council
Supreme Muslim Council
The Supreme Muslim Council was the highest body in charge of Muslim community affairs in Mandate Palestine under British control. It was established to create an advisory body composed of Muslims and Christians with whom the High Commissioner could consult...

. The Arabs were concerned that the Jews were trying to extend their rights at the wall and with this move, ultimately intended to take possession of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque also known as al-Aqsa, is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem...

. The British government issued an announcement explaining the incident and blaming the Jewish beadle
Gabbai
A Gabbai is a person who assists in the running of a synagogue and ensures that the needs are met, for example the Jewish prayer services run smoothly, or an assistant to a rabbi...

 at the Wall. It stressed that the removal of the screen was necessary, but expressed regret over the ensuing events.

A widespread Arab campaign to protest against presumed Jewish intentions and designs to take possession of the Al Aqsa Mosque swept the country and a "Society for the Protection of the Muslim Holy Places” was established. The Vaad Leumi
Vaad Leumi
The Jewish National Council , also known as the Jewish People's Council was the main national institution of the Jewish community within the British Mandate of Palestine.-History:...

 responding to these Arab fears declared in a statement that "We herewith declare emphatically and sincerely that no Jew has ever thought of encroaching upon the rights of Moslems over their own Holy places, but our Arab brethren should also recognise the rights of Jews in regard to the places in Palestine which are holy to them." The committee also demanded that the British administration expropriate the wall for the Jews.

From October 1928 onward, Mufti Amin al-Husayni organised a series of measures to demonstrate the Arabs' exclusive claims to the Temple Mount and its environs. He ordered new construction next to and above the Western Wall. The British granted the Arabs permission to convert a building adjoining the Wall into a mosque and to add a minaret. A muezzin
Muezzin
A muezzin , or muzim, is the chosen person at a mosque who leads the call to prayer at Friday services and the five daily times for prayer from one of the mosque's minarets; in most modern mosques, electronic amplification aids the muezzin in his task.The professional muezzin is chosen for his...

 was appointed to perform the Islamic call to prayer
Adhan
The adhān is the Islamic call to prayer, recited by the muezzin at prescribed times of the day. The root of the word is meaning "to permit"; another derivative of this word is , meaning "ear"....

 and Sufi rites
Dhikr
Dhikr , plural ; ), is an Islamic devotional act, typically involving the repetition of the Names of God, supplications or formulas taken from hadith texts and verses of the Qur'an. Dhikr is usually done individually, but in some Sufi orders it is instituted as a ceremonial activity...

 directly next to the Wall. These were seen as a provocation by the Jews who prayed at the Wall. The Jews protested and tensions increased.

A British inquiry into the disturbances and investigation regarding the principle issue in the Western Wall dispute, namely the rights of the Jewish worshipers to bring appurtenances to the wall, was convened. The Supreme Muslim Council provided documents dating from the Turkish regime supporting their claims. However, repeated reminders to the Chief Rabbinate to verify which apparatus had been permitted failed to elicit any response. They refused to do so, arguing that Jews had the right to pray at the Wall without restrictions. Subsequently, in November 1928, the Government issued a White Paper entitled "The Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem: Memorandum by the Secretary of State for the Colonies", which emphasised the maintenance of the status quo and instructed that Jews could only bring “those accessories which had been permitted in Turkish times.”

A few months later, Haj Amin complained to Chancellor
John Chancellor (British administrator)
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Robert Chancellor, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO was a British soldier and colonial official.After a career in the British Army's Corps of Royal Engineers, which included service on the North West Frontier and being Secretary of the Colonial Defence Committee, he became a...

 that “Jews were bringing benches and tables in increased numbers to the wall and driving nails into the wall and hanging lamps on them.”

1929 Palestine riots



In the summer of 1929, the Mufti ordered an opening be made at the southern end of the alleyway which straddled the Wall. The former cul-de-sac became a thoroughfare which led from the Temple Mount into the prayer area at the Wall. Mules were herded through the narrow alley, often dropping excrement. This, together with other construction projects in the vicinity, and restricted access to the Wall, resulted in Jewish protests to the British, who remained indifferent.

On August 14, 1929, after attacks on individual Jews praying at the Wall, 6,000 Jews demonstrated in Tel Aviv, shouting “The Wall is ours.” The next day, the Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av
Tisha B'Av
|Av]],") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date...

, 300 youths raised the Zionist flag and sang the Zionist anthem at the Wall. The day after, on August 16, an organized mob of 2,000 Muslim Arabs descended on the Western Wall, injuring the beadle and burning prayer books, liturgical fixtures and notes of supplication. The rioting spread to the Jewish commercial area of town, and was followed a few days later by the Hebron massacre
1929 Hebron massacre
The Hebron massacre refers to the killing of sixty-seven Jews on 23 and 24 August 1929 in Hebron, then part of the British Mandate of Palestine, by Arabs incited to violence by rumors that Jews were massacring Arabs in Jerusalem and seizing control of Muslim holy places...

.

1930 international commission


In 1930, in response to the 1929 riots, the British Government appointed a commission "to determine the rights and claims of Muslims and Jews in connection with the Western or Wailing Wall". The League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 approved the commission on condition that the members were not British.

The Jews requested that the Commission take the following actions:
  • To give recognition to the immemorial claim that the Wailing Wall is a Holy Place for the Jews, not only for the Jews in Palestine, but also for the Jews of the whole world.
  • To decree that the Jews shall have the right of access to the Wall for devotion and for prayers in accordance with their ritual without interference or interruption.
  • To decree that it shall be permissible to continue the Jewish services under the conditions of decency and decorum characteristic of a sacred custom that has been carried on for many centuries without infringement upon the religious rights of others.
  • To decree that the drawing up of any regulations that may be necessary as to such devotions and prayers, shall be entrusted to the Rabbinate of Palestine, who shall thus re-assume full responsibility in that matter, in discharge of which responsibility they may consult the Rabbinate of the world.
  • To suggest, if the Commissioners approve of the plan, to the Mandatory Power that it should make the necessary arrangements by which the properties now occupied by the Moghrabi Waqf might be vacated, the Waqf authorities accepting in lieu of them certain new buildings to be erected upon some eligible site in Jerusalem, so that the charitable purpose, for which this Waqf was given, may still be fulfilled.


David Yellin testifying before the commission stated:

”Being judged before you today stands a nation that has been deprived of everything that is dear and sacred to it from its emergence in its own land – the graves of its patriarchs, the graves of its great kings, the graves of its holy prophets and, above all, the site of its glorious Temple. Everything has been taken from it and of all the witnesses to its sanctity, only one vestige remains – one side of a tiny portion of a wall, which, on one side, borders the place of its former Temple. In front of this bare stone wall, that nation stands under the open sky, in the heat of summer and in the rains of winter, and pours out its heart to its God in heaven.”


The Commission concluded that the wall, and the adjacent pavement and Moroccan Quarter, were solely owned by the Muslim waqf
Jerusalem Islamic Waqf
The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf is an Islamic trust best known for controlling and managing the current Islamic edifices on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Waqf has governed access to the geographic region since the Muslim reconquest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187...

. However, Jews had the right to "free access to the Western Wall for the purpose of devotions at all times", subject to some stipulations that limited which objects could be brought to the Wall and forbade the blowing of the shofar
Shofar
A shofar is a horn, traditionally that of a ram, used for Jewish religious purposes. Shofar-blowing is incorporated in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.Shofar come in a variety of sizes.- Bible and rabbinic literature :...

, which was made illegal. Muslims were forbidden to disrupt Jewish devotions by driving animals or other means. Yitzchak Orenstein, who held the position of Rabbi of the Kotel, recorded in April 1930 that “Our master, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld
Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld
Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, also spelled Zonnenfeld, was the Chief Rabbi and co-founder of the Edah HaChareidis, Haredi Jewish community in Jerusalem, during the years of the British Mandate of Palestine. He was originally given the name "Chaim", however, the name "Yosef" was added to him while he...

 came to pray this morning by the Kosel and one of those present produced a small chair for the Rav to rest on for a few moments. However, no sooner had the Rav sat down did an Arab officer appear and pull the chair away from under him.” During the 1930s, at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, young Jews persistently flouted the shofar ban each year and blew the shofar resulting in their arrest and prosecution. They were usually fined or sentenced to imprisonment for three to six months.

Jordanian rule 1948–67


During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 the Old City together with the Wall was captured by Jordan
Rule of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan
The West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan for a period of nearly two decades starting from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1950, the British extended formal recognition to the union between the Hashemite Kingdom and of that part of Palestine under Jordanian occupation and control -...

. Article VIII of the 1949 Armistice Agreement provided for Israeli Jewish access to the Western Wall. However for the following nineteen years, despite numerous requests by Israeli officials and Jewish groups to the United Nations and other international bodies to attempt to enforce the armistice agreement, Jordan refused to abide by this clause. Neither Israeli Arabs nor Israeli Jews could visit their holy places in the Jordanian territories.
An exception was made for Christians to participate in Christmas ceremonies in Bethlehem. Some sources claim Jews could only visit the wall if they traveled through Jordan (which was not an option for Israelis) and did not have an Israeli visa stamped in their passports. Only Jordanian soldiers and tourists were to be found there. A vantage point on Mount Zion
Mount Zion
Mount Zion is a place name for a site in Jerusalem, the location of which has shifted several times in history. According to the Hebrew Bible's Book of Samuel, it was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion" that was conquered by King David, becoming his palace in the City...

, from which the Wall could be viewed, became the place where Jews gathered to pray. For thousands of pilgrims, the mount, being the closest location to the Wall under Israeli control, became a substitute site for the traditional priestly blessing
Priestly Blessing
The Priestly Blessing, , also known in Hebrew as Nesiat Kapayim, , or Dukhanen , is a Jewish prayer recited by Kohanim during certain Jewish services...

 ceremony which takes place on the Three Pilgrimage Festivals.

"Al Buraq (Wailing Wall) Rd" sign


During the Jordanian occupation of the Old City, a ceramic street sign in Arabic and English was affixed to the stones of the ancient wall. Attached three metres up, it was made up of eight separate ceramic tiles and said Al Buraq in Arabic at the top with the English "Al-Buraq (Wailing Wall) Rd" below. When Israeli soldiers arrived at the wall in June 1967, one attempted to scrawl Hebrew lettering on it. The Jerusalem Post reported that on June 8, Ben-Gurion went to the wall and "looked with distaste" at the road sign; "this is not right, it should come down” and he proceeded to dismantle it.
This act signaled the climax of the capture of the Old City and the ability of Jews to once again access their holiest sites. Emotional recollections of this event are related by David ben Gurion and Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

.

Israeli rule 1967–present


Following Israel's victory during the 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, the Western Wall came under Israeli control. Yitzchak Rabin, fifth Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

, described the moment Israeli soldiers reached the Wall:

”There was one moment in the Six-Day War which symbolized the great victory: that was the moment in which the first paratroopers – under Gur
Mordechai Gur
Following his retirement from the IDF, Gur was appointed as the general manager of Kur Mechanica company. In 1981 he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Alignment. Re-elected in 1984, he served as Minister of Health and was also a member of the Knesset's Security and Foreign Affairs...

's command – reached the stones of the Western Wall, feeling the emotion of the place; there never was, and never will be, another moment like it. Nobody staged that moment. Nobody planned it in advance. Nobody prepared it and nobody was prepared for it; it was as if Providence had directed the whole thing: the paratroopers weeping – loudly and in pain – over their comrades who had fallen along the way, the words of the Kaddish
Kaddish
Kaddish is a prayer found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name. In the liturgy different versions of the Kaddish are used functionally as separators between sections of the service...

 prayer heard by Western Wall's stones after 19 years of silence, tears of mourning, shouts of joy, and the singing of "Hatikvah
Hatikvah
"Hatikvah" is the national anthem of Israel. The anthem was written by Naphtali Herz Imber, a secular Galician Jew from Zolochiv , who moved to the Land of Israel in the early 1880s....

".


Forty-eight hours after capturing the wall, the military, without explicit government order, hastily proceeded to demolish the entire Moroccan Quarter
Moroccan Quarter
The Moroccan Quarter or Mughrabi Quarter was an 800-year old neighborhood in the southeast corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, bordering on the western wall of the Temple Mount on the east , the Old City walls on the south , the Jewish Quarter to the west, and the Muslim Quarter to...

 which stood four metres from the Wall. Accorfing to Eyal Weizman
Eyal Weizman
Eyal Weizman is an Israeli intellectual and architect. Involved in political theory through the case of Palestine, Weizman's most known theoretical work describes the acts of the Israeli army as founded upon the post-structuralist French philosophers and a reading of them...

, Chaim Herzog
Chaim Herzog
Chaim Herzog served as the sixth President of Israel , following a distinguished career in both the British Army and the Israel Defense Forces .-Early life:...

, who later became Israel’s sixth president, took much of the credit for the destruction of the neighbourhood:

”When we visited the Wailing Wall we found a toilet attached to it...we decided to remove it and from this we came to the conclusion that we could evacuate the entire area in front of the Wailing Wall...a historical opportunity that will never return...We knew that the following Saturday, June 14, would be the Jewish festival of Shavouot and that many will want to come to pray...it all had to be completed by then.”


The narrow pavement, which could accommodate a maximum of 12,000 per day, was transformed into an enormous plaza which could hold in excess of 400,000. The dusty plaza stretched from the wall to the Jewish Quarter. The section of the Wall dedicated to prayers was extended southwards to double its original length from 30 to 60 metres, while the 4 metre space facing the Wall grew to 40 metres. Thus the small pre-1967 120 square metre area in front of the wall became the vast Western Wall Plaza, covering 20,000 square metres.

The new plaza created in 1967 is used for worship and public gatherings, including Bar mitzvah celebrations and the swearing-in ceremonies of newly full-fledged soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

. Chabad
Chabad
Chabad or Chabad-Lubavitch is a major branch of Hasidic Judaism.Chabad may also refer to:*Chabad-Strashelye, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism*Chabad-Kapust or Kapust, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism...

 activists stationed at the site regularly promote the Tefillin Campaign. Tens of thousands of Jews flock to the wall on the Jewish holidays, and particularly on the fast of Tisha B'Av
Tisha B'Av
|Av]],") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date...

, which marks the destruction of the Temple and on Jerusalem Day, which commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 and the delivery of the Wall into Jewish hands.

Robinson's Arch


At the southern end of the Western Wall, Robinson's Arch along with a row of vaults once supported stairs ascending from the street to the Temple Mount. Because it does not come under the direct control of the Rabbi of the Wall or the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the site has been opened to religious groups that hold worship services that would not be approved by the Rabbi or the Ministry in the major men's and women's prayer areas against the Wall.

The need for such an area became apparent when in in 1989, after repeated attacks by haredim, activists belonging to a group called Women Of The Wall
Women Of The Wall
Women of the Wall is an organization based in Israel, whose goal is to secure women's right to hold and read the Torah and to wear religious garments at the Western Wall. They have organized a series of Women's prayer groups at the Kotel each month on Rosh Hodesh...

 petitioned to secure the right of women to pray at the wall without restrictions. Ultimately, in 2003 Israel's Supreme Court disallowed any women from reading publicly from the Torah or wearing traditional prayer shawls
Tallit
A tallit pl. tallitot is a Jewish prayer shawl. The tallit is worn over the outer clothes during the morning prayers on weekdays, Shabbat and holidays...

 at the plaza itself, but instructed the Israeli government to prepare the site of Robinson's Arch to host such events. The site was inaugurated in August 2004 and has since hosted services by Reform
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

 and Conservative
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 groups, as well as services by the Women of the Wall.

In November 2010, the government approved a £15m ($23m) scheme to improve access and infrastructure at the site.

Wilson's Arch




In 2005, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation initiated a major renovation effort under Rabbi-of-the-Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch. Its goal was to renovate and restore the area within Wilson's Arch
Wilson's Arch (Jerusalem)
Wilson's Arch is the modern name for the ancient stone arch whose top is still visible today, where it is supported against the Northeast corner of Jerusalem's Western Wall, so that it appears on the left to visitors facing the Wall...

, the covered area to the left of worshipers facing the Wall in the open prayer plaza, in order to increase access for visitors and for prayer.

The restoration to the men's section included a Torah ark that can house over 100 Torah scrolls, in addition to new bookshelves, a library, heating for the winter, and air conditioning for the summer. A new room was also built for the scribes who maintain and preserve the Torah scrolls used at the Wall. New construction also included a women's section, overlooking the men's prayer area, so that women could use this separate area to "take part in the services held inside under the Arch" for the first time.

On July 25, 2010, a Ner Tamid, an oil-burning "eternal light," was installed within the prayer hall within Wilson's Arch, the first eternal light installed in the area of the Western Wall. According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, requests had been made for many years that "an olive oil lamp be placed in the prayer hall of the Western Wall Plaza, as is the custom in Jewish synagogues, to represent the menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem as well as the continuously burning fire on the altar of burnt offerings in front of the Temple," especially in the closest place to those ancient flames.
A number of special worship events have been held since the renovation. They have taken advantage of the cover, temperature control, and enhanced security. However, in addition to the more recent programs, one early event occurred in September 1983, even before the modern renovation. At that time U. S. Sixth Fleet Chaplain Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff
Arnold Resnicoff
Arnold E. Resnicoff is an American Conservative rabbi, a decorated retired military officer and military chaplain, and a consultant on leadership, values, and interreligious affairs to military and civilian leaders...

 was allowed to hold an unusual interfaith service—the first interfaith service ever conducted at the Wall during the time it was under Israeli control—that included men and women sitting together. The ten-minute service included the Priestly Blessing
Priestly Blessing
The Priestly Blessing, , also known in Hebrew as Nesiat Kapayim, , or Dukhanen , is a Jewish prayer recited by Kohanim during certain Jewish services...

, recited by Resnicoff, who is a Kohen
Kohen
A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

. A Ministry of Religions representative was present, responding to press queries that the service was authorized as part of a special welcome for the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

Rabbis of the wall


After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Rabbi Yehuda Meir Getz was named the overseer of proceedings at the wall. After Rabbi Getz's death in 1995, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
Shmuel Rabinowitz
Shmuel Rabinovitch, also spelled Rabinowitz is an Orthodox rabbi and Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel...

 was given the position.

Judaism



In Judaism, the Western Wall is venerated as the sole remnant of the Holy Temple
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

. It has become a place of pilgrimage for Jews, as it is the closest permitted accessible site to the holiest spot in Judaism, namely the Even ha-shetiya or Foundation Stone, which lies on the Temple Mount. According to one rabbinic opinion, Jews may not set foot upon the Temple Mount and doing so is a sin punishable by Kareth
Kareth
In Judaism, Kareth is a divine punishment for transgressing Jewish law.It is the punishment for serious crimes that were not brought to justice by a human court...

. While almost all historians and archaeologists and some rabbinical authorities believe that the rocky outcrop in the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 is the Foundation Stone, some rabbis say it is located directly opposite the exposed section of the Western Wall, near the El-kas fountain. This spot was the site of the Holy of Holies when the Temple stood.

Jewish tradition teaches that the Western Wall was built by King Solomon and that the wall we see today is built upon his foundations, which date from the time of the First Temple. Jewish midrashic texts compiled in Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 refer to a western wall of the Temple which “would never be destroyed.” Some scholars were of the opinion that this referred to a wall of the Temple itself which has long since vanished. Others believed that the wall still stood and was actually a surviving wall of the Temple courtyard. However, today there is no doubt that the wall is the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount and the Midrash refers to the Temple in its broader sense, that is, the Temple Mount. Jewish sources teach that when Roman Emperor Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 ordered the destruction of the Temple, he ordered Pangar, Duke of Arabia, to destroy the Western Wall. Pangar however could not destroy the wall because of God's promise that the Wall will never be destroyed. When asked by Titus why he did not destroy it, Pangar replied that it would stand as a reminder of what Titus had conquered. He was duly executed. There is a tradition that states that when water starts trickling through the stones of the Wall, it is a signal of the advent of the Messiah.

Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kaindenover discusses the mystical aspect of the Hebrew word kotel when discussing the significance of praying against a wall. He cites the Zohar which writes that the word kotel, meaning wall, is made up of two parts: "Ko", which has the numerical value of God’s name, and "Tel", meaning mount, which refers to the Temple and its Western Wall.

Jewish sources, including the Zohar
Zohar
The Zohar is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah and scriptural interpretations as well as material on Mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology...

, write that the Divine Presence
Shekhinah
Shekinah is the English spelling of a grammatically feminine Hebrew word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem.-Etymology:Shekinah is derived...

 rests upon the Western Wall. The Midrash quotes a 4th century scholar: “Rav Acha said that the Divine Presence has never moved away from the Western Wall”. 18th century scholar Jonathan Eybeschutz
Jonathan Eybeschutz
Jonathan Eybeschutz , was a Talmudist, Halachist, Kabbalist, holding positions as Dayan of Prague, and later as Rabbi of the "Three Communities": Altona, Hamburg and Wandsbek. With Jacob Emden, he is well known as a protagonist in the Emden-Eybeschütz Controversy.-Biography:Eybeschütz's father was...

 writes that “after the destruction of the Temple, God removed His Presence from His sanctuary and placed it upon the Western Wall where it remains in its holiness and honour”. It is told that great Jewish sages, including Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria , also called Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi acronym "The Ari" "Ari-Hakadosh", or "Arizal", meaning "The Lion", was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine...

 and the Radvaz, experienced a revelation of the Divine Presence at the wall.

Prayer at the Wall



The sages state that anyone who prays in the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

, “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer”. Jewish Law dictates that when Jews pray the Silent Prayer
Amidah
The Amidah , also called the Shmoneh Esreh , is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book...

, they should face mizrach, towards Jerusalem, the Temple and ultimately the Holy of Holies, as all of God’s bounty and blessing emanates from that spot. According to the Mishna, of all the four walls of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall was the closest to the Holy of Holies and therefore that to pray by the Wall is particularly beneficial. Rabbi Jacob Ettlinger
Jacob Ettlinger
Jacob Ettlinger was a German rabbi and author, and one of the leaders of Orthodox Judaism.He was born at Karlsruhe and died at Altona...

 writes "since the gate of heaven is near the Western Wall, it is understandable that all Israel's prayers ascend on high there...as one of the great ancient kabbalists Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla said, when the Jews send their prayers from the Diaspora in the direction of Jerusalem, from there they ascend by way of the Western Wall." A well-known auspicious practice among Jews is to pray for 40 consecutive days at the Western Wall. This custom was apparently conceived by Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Fisher
Yisroel Yaakov Fisher
Yisroel Yaakov Fisher, , was a leading posek, Av Beit Din of the Edah HaChareidis and rabbi of the Zichron Moshe neighbourhood in Jerusalem....

.

According to some, by Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 the privileged site of Jewish prayer in Jerusalem was located on the Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge in East Jerusalem with three peaks running from north to south. The highest, at-Tur, rises to 818 meters . It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes...

 and only towards the end of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 did Jews gradually begin to congregate instead at the Western Wall for their prayers, authorized to do so by the waqf authorities. Indeed, most historians believe that the Western Wall became a popular prayer area only after the Ottoman conquest of Jerusalem in 1517. There are, however, recorded instances of the wall being used as a place of prayer before the Ottoman period. The Scroll of Ahimaaz, a historical document written in 1050 CE, distinctly describes the Western Wall as a place of prayer for the Jews. In around 1167 CE during the late Crusader Period, Benjamin of Tudela
Benjamin of Tudela
Benjamin of Tudela was a medieval Jewish traveler who visited Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 12th century. His vivid descriptions of western Asia preceded those of Marco Polo by a hundred years...

 wrote that "In front of this place is the Western Wall, which is one of the walls of the Holy of Holies. This is called the Gate of Mercy, and hither come all the Jews to pray before the Wall in the open court". In 1334, Jewish traveller Isaac Chelo wrote: "It is this Western Wall which stands before the temple of Omar ibn al Khattab, and which is called the Gate of Mercy. The Jews resort thither to say their prayers, as Rabbi Benjamin has already related. Today, this wall is one of the seven wonders of the Holy City." In 1625 "arranged prayers" at the Wall are mentioned for the first time by a scholar whose name has not been preserved. Scrolls of the Law were brought to the Wall on occasions of public distress and calamity, as testified to in a narrative written by Rabbi Gedaliah of Semitizi who went to Jerusalem in the year 1699.

"On Friday afternoon, March 13, 1863, the writer visited this sacred spot. Here he found between one and two hundred Jews of both sexes and of all ages, standing or sitting, and bowing as they read, chanted and recited, moving themselves backward and forward, the tears rolling down many a face; they kissed the walls and wrote sentences in Hebrew upon them... The lamentation which is most commonly used is from Psalm 79: "O God, the heathen are come into Thy inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled."
Rev. James W. Lee, 1863. (Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, p. 147)
The writings of various travellers in the Holy Land, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, tell of how the Wall and its environs continued to be a place of devotion for the Jews. Isaac Yahuda, a prominent member of the Sephardic community in Jerusalem recalled how men and women used to gather in a circle at the Wall to hear sermons delivered in Ladino. His great-grandmother, who arrived in Palestine in 1841, “used to go to the Western Wall every Friday afternoon, winter and summer, and stay there until candle-lighting time, reading the entire Book of Psalms and the Song of Songs...she would sit there by herself for hours." The Kaf hachaim
Yaakov Chaim Sofer
Yaakov Chaim Sofer was an Orthodox rabbi, Kabbalist, Talmudist and posek . Sofer is author of the work of halakha titled Kaf Hachayim, by which title he is also known....

records that Ashkenasim and Sephardim were accustomed to walking through the streets and markets of the Old City wearing their tallit
Tallit
A tallit pl. tallitot is a Jewish prayer shawl. The tallit is worn over the outer clothes during the morning prayers on weekdays, Shabbat and holidays...

 and tefillin
Tefillin
Tefillin also called phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. Although "tefillin" is technically the plural form , it is loosely used as a singular as...

 on their way to pray by the Western Wall.

Throughout the ages, the Wall is where Jews have gathered to express gratitude to God or to pray for divine mercy. On news of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 thousands of Jews went to the Wall to offer prayers for the “success of His Majesty’s and Allied Forces in the liberation of all enemy-occupied territory.” On October 13, 1994, 50,000 gathered to pray for the safe return of kidnapped soldier Nachshon Wachsman. August 10, 2005 saw a massive prayer rally at the Wall. Estimates of people protesting Israel's unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan , also known as the "Disengagement plan", "Gaza expulsion plan", and "Hitnatkut", was a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, adopted by the government on June 6, 2004 and enacted in August 2005, to evict all Israelis from the Gaza Strip and from...

 ranged from 50,000 to 250,000 people. Every year on Tisha B'Av
Tisha B'Av
|Av]],") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date...

 large crowds congregate at the Wall to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. In 2007 over 100,000 gathered. During the month of Tishrei
Tishrei
Tishrei or Tishri , Tiberian: ; from Akkadian "Beginning", from "To begin") is the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year in the Hebrew calendar. The name of the month is Babylonian. It is an autumn month of 30 days...

 2009, a record 1.5 million people visited the site.

Mourning the Temple's Destruction



According to Jewish Law, one is obligated to grieve and rend one's garment upon visiting the Western Wall and seeing the desolate site of the Temple. Bach
Yoel Sirkis
Joel ben Samuel Sirkis also known as the Bach - an abbreviation of his magnum opus, Bayit Chadash - was a prominent Jewish posek and halakhist. He lived in central Europe and held rabbinical positions in Belz, Brest-Litovsk and Kraków from 1561-1640.-Biography:Sirkis was born in Lublin in 1561...

 (17th century) explicitly mentions the "Kotel ha-Ma'aravi" when expounding how one could encounter the ruins of the Temple before the ruins of Jerusalem. Today, some scholars
Posek
Posek is the term in Jewish law for "decider"—a legal scholar who decides the Halakha in cases of law where previous authorities are inconclusive or in those situations where no halakhic precedent exists....

 are of the view that rending one's garments is not applicable since Jerusalem is under Jewish sovereignty. Others disagree, citing that the Temple Mount itself is controlled by the Muslim waqf and the State of Israel has no power to remove the mosques which sit upon it. Furthermore, the mosques' very existence on the site of the Temple should increase one's feeling of distress. If one hasn’t seen the Wall for over 30 days, in order to avoid tearing one's shirt, the custom is to visit on the Sabbath, including Friday afternoons, or Saturday evenings if dressed in Sabbath finery, or on festivals. A person who has not seen the Wall within the last 30 days should recite:

"Our Holy Temple, which was our glory, in which our forefathers praised You, was burned and all of our delights were destroyed".


The Bach
Yoel Sirkis
Joel ben Samuel Sirkis also known as the Bach - an abbreviation of his magnum opus, Bayit Chadash - was a prominent Jewish posek and halakhist. He lived in central Europe and held rabbinical positions in Belz, Brest-Litovsk and Kraków from 1561-1640.-Biography:Sirkis was born in Lublin in 1561...

 cites Likutim which instructs that "when one sees the Gates of Mercy which are situated in the Western Wall, which is the wall King David built, he should recite:
Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the nations: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the Lord" — Book of Lamentations
Book of Lamentations
The Book of Lamentations ) is a poetic book of the Hebrew Bible composed by the Jewish prophet Jeremiah. It mourns the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in the 6th Century BCE....

 2:9

Prayer notes




There is a much publicised practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers
Kvitel
Kvitel refers to a practice developed by Hasidic Judaism in which a Hasid writes a note with a petitionary prayer and gives it to a Rebbe in order to receive the latter's blessing...

 into the crevices of the Wall. People will write notes with their wishes, then place them in the cracks hoping they will come true. The earliest account of this practice is recorded in Sefer Tamei Ha-minhagim U’mekorei Ha-dinim and involves Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar
Chaim ibn Attar
Chaim ben Moses ibn Attar also known as the Ohr ha-Chaim after his popular commentary on the Pentateuch, was a Talmudist and kabbalist; born at Meknes, Morocco, in 1696; died in Jerusalem, Israel July 7, 1743. He was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco.In 1733 he decided to leave his native...

, (d. 1743). More than a million notes are placed each year and the opportunity to e-mail notes is offered by a number of organisations. It has become customary for visiting dignitaries to place notes too.

Sanctity of the Wall


There is much debate among Jewish codifiers about whether it is permitted to place one's fingers inside the cracks of the Wall. Those who warn against such action hold that the breadth of the Wall constitutes part of the Temple Mount itself and therefore retains holiness. Others hold that the Wall stands outside the given measurements of the Temple area and therefore there is no concern about inserting one's fingers into the crevices. In the past, visitors, based upon various scriptural verses, would drive nails into the cracks and paint their Hebrew names on the Wall. These practices stopped after rabbinic consensus determined that such actions compromised the sanctity of the Wall. Another practice also existed whereby pilgrims or those intending to travel abroad would hack off a chip from the Wall or take some of the sand from between its cracks as a good luck charm or memento. In the late 19th century the question was raised as to whether this was permitted and a long responsa
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

 appeared in the Jerusalem newspaper Havatzelet in 1898. It concluded that even if according to Jewish Law it was permitted, the practices should be stopped as it constituted a desecration. More recently the Yalkut Yosef
Yalkut Yosef
Yalkut Yosef is an authoritative, contemporary work of Halakha, providing a detailed explanation of the Shulchan Aruch as based on the halachic rulings of the former Rishon LeTzion Rav Ovadia Yosef...

rules that it is forbidden to remove small chips of stone or dust from the Wall, although it is permissible to take twigs from the vegetation which grows in the Wall for an amulet, as they contain no holiness. Cleaning the stones is also problematic from a halachic point of view. Blasphemous graffiti once sprayed by a tourist was left visible for months until it began to peel away.
Many contemporary poskim rule that the area in front of the Wall has the status of a synagogue and must be treated with due respect. As such, men and married women are expected to cover their heads upon approaching the Wall, and to dress appropriately. When departing, the custom is walk backwards away from the Wall. On Saturdays, it is forbidden to enter the area with electronic devices, including cameras, which infringe on the sanctity of the Sabbath.
There was once an old custom of removing one's shoes upon approaching the Wall. A 17th century collection of special prayers to be said at holy places mentions that “upon coming to the Western Wall one should remove his shoes, bow and recite...”. Rabbi Moses Reicher wrote that “it is a good and praiseworthy custom to approach the Western Wall in white garments after ablution, kneel and prostrate oneself in submission and recite “This is nothing other than the House of God and here is the gate of Heaven.” When within four cubit
Cubit
The cubit is a traditional unit of length, based on the length of the forearm. Cubits of various lengths were employed in many parts of the world in Antiquity, in the Middle Ages and into Early Modern Times....

s of the Wall, one should remove their footwear.” Over the years the custom of standing barefoot at the Wall has ceased, as there is no need to remove one's shoes when standing by the Wall, because the plaza area is outside the sanctified precinct of the Temple Mount.

In the past women could be found sitting at the entrance to the Wall every Sabbath holding fragrant herbs and spices in order to enable worshipers to make additional blessings. In the hot weather they would provide cool water. The women also used to cast lots for the privilege of sweeping and washing the alleyway at the foot of the Wall.

Islam


Until the 1920s, Muslims referred to the Wall as El-Mabka “the place of wailing". They then began calling it the Al-Buraq Wall.

Muslims maintain that the Wall is an Islamic endowment site based on two factors: The first is the association of the Wall in the Isra and Mi'raj
Isra and Mi'raj
The Isra and Mi'raj , are the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islamic tradition, the Islamic prophet Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. It has been described as both a physical and spiritual journey...

; some sources identify the Western Wall as the place where the Islamic prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 tethered his winged steed, Buraq
Buraq
Al-Burāq is a mythological steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. The most commonly told story is how in the 7th century, Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi'raj or "Night Journey", which is...

. The tradition is first referred to in a manuscript by Ibn Furkah (d. 1328) stating that Buraq was tethered outside Bab al-Nab, an old name for a gate along the southwestern wall of the Haram al-Sharif at the very spot presently known as Al-Buraq. Other sources which referred to this tradition date from the 19th century and include the 1840 deliberation refusing the Jews the right to pave the area in front of the wall and the map of Jerusalem by Wilson (1865) that names the area around the Wailing Wall Hosh al-Buraq. The second factor is the claim that it is waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 property and a part of the Noble Sanctuary
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

.

Shmuel Berkowitz, in his book "The Wars over the Holy Places", suggests that Muslim attribution of holiness to the Western Wall began only in the last 100 years. He suggests this from the fact that official guides published by the Waqf in 1914, 1965, and 1990 do not attribute holiness to the wall and the entry "al-Buraq" in the Encyclopedia of Islam does not make the connection either.

Christianity


Some scholars believe that when Jerusalem came under Christian rule in the 4th century, there was a purposeful "transference" of respect for the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in terms of sanctity to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan....

, while the sites around the Temple Mount became a place to dump garbage for Christians. However, the actions of many modern Christian leaders, including Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 and Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, who visited the Wall and actually left prayer messages in its crevices, has symbolized for many Christians a restoration of respect and even veneration for this ancient religious site.

Some extreme Christian Zionists go further, claiming that the Third Temple must be rebuilt as part of the groundwork for the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

. A small group of extremists even advocate the destruction of the Muslim Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 to hasten the new Temple construction.

Jewish



Most Jews, religious and secular, consider the wall to be important to Judaism since it was originally built to hold the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

. They consider the capture of the wall by Israel in 1967 as a historic event since it restored Jewish access to the site after a 19 year gap. There are, however, some haredi Jews who hold opposing views. Most notable are the adherents of the Satmar
Satmar (Hasidic dynasty)
Satmar is a Hasidic movement comprising mostly Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It was founded and led by the late Hungarian-born Grand Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum , who was the rabbi of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary...

 hasidic sect who retain the views expoused by rabbi Joel Teitelbaum
Joel Teitelbaum
Joel Teitelbaum, known as Reb Yoelish or the Satmar Rav , was a prominent Hungarian Hasidic rebbe and Talmudic scholar. He was probably the best known Haredi opponent of all forms of modern political Zionism...

 who would not approach the Wall, as he felt it had been befouled by secular interests and those professing secular Zionism, which he saw as an abomination, Jewish sovereignty not being permitted to be restored to the site until the arrival of the Messiah. Avigdor Miller
Avigdor Miller
Rabbi Avigdor Miller was a Haredi rabbi, author and lecturer in the United States. He served simultaneously as a communal rabbi and as the mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and as a teacher in Beis Yaakov for many years.-Biography:Rabbi Miller was born in 1908 in Baltimore...

, a non-hasidic American rabbi, wrote that "the Kosel is better off in the hands of the Muslims due to their modesty
Tzniut
Tzniut is a term used within Judaism and has its greatest influence as a concept within Orthodox Judaism...

 more than the Jews who defile the holy place with their Jewish immodesty".

Israeli


A poll carried out in 2007 by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies indicated that 96% of Israeli Jews were against Israel relinquishing sovereignty of the Western Wall. During a speech at Israel's Mercaz HaRav
Mercaz haRav
Mercaz HaRav , more properly, Mercaz HaRav Kook ), is a national-religious yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel, founded in 1924 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. It has become synonymous with his teachings....

 yeshivah on Jerusalem Day in 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declared:
"The flag that flies over the Kotel is the Israeli flag... Our holy places, the Temple Mount - will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever."

Muslim



In recent decades Muslims have been vociferous in denying that the Wall has any significance in Judaism. In December 1973, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia
Faisal of Saudi Arabia
Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was King of Saudi Arabia from 1964 to 1975. As king, he is credited with rescuing the country's finances and implementing a policy of modernization and reform, while his main foreign policy themes were pan-Islamic Nationalism, anti-Communism, and pro-Palestinian...

 stated that “Only Muslims and Christians have holy places and rights in Jerusalem”. The Jews, he maintained, had no rights there at all. As for the Western Wall, he said, “Another wall can be built for them. They can pray against that". Raed Salah
Raed Salah
Raed Salah is the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. He was born in Umm al-Fahm - an Israeli-Arab city bordering the Green Line - and was elected as the mayor of that city three times; in 1989, 1993 and 1997. He has eight children and is a former poetSalah was banned...

, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel
Islamic Movement in Israel
The Islamic Movement in Israel is a movement that aims to advocate Islam among Israeli Arabs. It operates on three levels: religious , social and anti-Zionist...

 wrote that:

"The Western Wall – all its various parts, structures and gates – are an inseparable part of the al-Aqsa compound...The Western Wall is part of Al-Aqsa's western tower, which the Israeli establishment fallaciously and sneakily calls the 'Wailing Wall'. The wall is part of the holy al-Aqsa Mosque".

Palestinian


According to the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

, the Jews did not consider the Wall as a place for worship except after the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917. PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri
Ekrima Sa'id Sabri
Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine from October 1994 to July 1, 2006. He was appointed by Yasser Arafat.He has a doctorate from Al Azhar University in Egypt on the “Islamic Endowment Between Theory and Practice”....

, believes that the Wall belongs to the Muslims alone. In 2000 he related that “No stone of the Al-Buraq wall has any relation to Judaism. The Jews began praying at this wall only in the nineteenth century, when they began to develop [national] aspirations.” A year later he stated:
In 2006, Dr. Hassan Khader, founder of the Al Quds Encyclopedia, told PA television that the first connection of the Jews to the Wall is "a recent one which began in the 16th Century...not ancient...like the roots of the Islamic connection".

In November 2010, an official paper published by the PA Ministry of Information denied Jewish rights to the Wall. It stated that "Al-Buraq Wall is in fact the western wall of Al-Aksa Mosque" and that Jews had only started using the site for worship after the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

Yitzhak Reiter writes that "the Islamization and de-Judaization of the Western Wall are a recurrent motif in publications and public statements by the heads of the Islamic Movement in Israel."

Egyptian


Egyptian Minister of Waqfs, Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, has asserted that the Western Wall is not a Jewish holy site. Another high ranking Egyptian Muslim authority, Mufti Nasr Fradid Wassel, has decreed that the Western Wall remain an Islamic endowment for ever, explaining that it is a part of the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque also known as al-Aqsa, is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem...

. He added that the Wall would belong to Muslims all over the world "until the end of earth" and that it is religiously forbidden for Muslims to refer to Buraq Wall as the Wailing Wall.

American


While recognizing the difficulties inherent in any ultimate peace agreement that involves the status of Jerusalem, the official position of the United States includes a recognition of the importance of the Wall to the Jewish people, and has condemned statements that seek to "delegitimize" the relationship between Jews and the area in general, and the Western Wall in particular. For example, in November 2010, the Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 administration "strongly condemned a Palestinian official's claim that the Western Wall in the Old City has no religious significance for Jews and is actually Muslim property." The U.S. State Department noted that the United States rejects such a claim as
"factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative."

See also

  • List of artifacts significant to the Bible
  • Pro-Wailing Wall Committee
    Pro-Wailing Wall Committee
    The Pro–Wailing Wall Committee was established in Palestine on 24 July 1929, by Joseph Klausner, Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University, to promote Jewish rights at the Western Wall....

  • Walls of Jerusalem
    Walls of Jerusalem
    The Walls of Jerusalem surround the old city of Jerusalem . The walls were built between 1535 and 1538, when Jerusalem was in the Ottoman empire region of Palestine, by order of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent....

  • Southern Wall
    Southern Wall
    The Southern Wall is a wall at the southern end of the Temple Mount and the former southern side of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It was built during King Herod's expansion of the Temple Mount platform southward on to the Ophel.-Construction:...

  • Western Stone
    Western Stone
    The Western Stone, located in the northern section of Wilson's Arch, is a monolithic stone block forming part of the lower level of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Weighing 517 tonnes , it is one of the largest building blocks in the world. The stone is 13.6 meters long and 3 metres high and has...

  • Western Wall camera
    Western Wall camera
    A Western Wall camera, also known as a wallcam, is a live webcam that displays action at the Western Wall live as it is taking place.Some cameras operate all the time. Others refrain from operating during Shabbat and Jewish holy days.-Operators:...

  • Western Wall Tunnel
    Western Wall Tunnel
    The Western Wall Tunnel is an underground tunnel exposing the full length of the Western Wall. The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located under buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. While the open-air portion of the Western Wall is approximately long, the majority of its...


External links




Photographs