Faith, culture and history come together at the Western Wall in that special blend that makes Israel unique. Revered as the last remnant of the Second Temple, the Western Wall is Judaism’s most sacred site. But thanks to King Solomon’s “invitation” for everyone (1 King 8:41-42) to turn here in prayer, visitors of all faiths and cultures can feel a special bond.
You’ll find worshippers here day and night, but on Bar Mitzvah days (Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays) families from around the world and across Israel crowd the plaza to celebrate their sons’ first public Bible reading at age 13. Mingling here with Jews from every continent, each with their own customs, music, dress and liturgy becomes a colorful and unforgettable cultural adventure. For many visitors, placing a traditional prayer note within these ancient stones is a memory to treasure.
The nearby Western Wall tunnel is a treat for archaeology and history buffs, who are astounded to discover that as massive as the open-air portion of the Western Wall is – at over 180 feet long and over 60 feet high – most of its nearly 1,700-foot original length lies beneath today’s Old City.
The tunnels are those that have been created by numerous arches side-by-side supporting staircases going from the city to the Temple Mount. In ancient times there was a shallow valley called the Tyropaean running along the Western side of the Temple Mount (now filled in due to constant demolition and rebuilding) that separated the rich Herodian quarter from the Temple, and it was the need to bridge this that cause the arches to be built. These pathways still hold up the streets today, and the tunnel goes directly underneath the Muslim quarter.
Reach out in the tunnel to touch portions of the huge arches that supported Jerusalem’s streets over the millennia, the homes later built among them, and of course, the Western Wall itself, some of whose building blocks are the most massive ever discovered. You will re-emerge in present-day Jerusalem with a new appreciation for the magnificent and moving site.