The Western Wall, or “Wailing Wall” as it is widely known, is the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, it is the western support wall of what is known to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike as the Temple Mount.
Thousands of people journey to the wall every year to pray. The prayers may be recited but are often written on paper or parchment as well and placed in the cracks of the wall. Men and women are segregated at the wall in two clearly divided sections, and both genders are expected to dress modestly.
But you don’t have to pray or even be religious to visit. The Wailing Wall is open to all people, is free to enter and is open all day, year-round.
King Herod built the wall in 20 BCE during an expansion of the Second Temple. When the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 CE, the support wall survived. For hundreds of years, people prayed in the small area of the wall that could be seen. In 1967, following the Six Day War, Israelis dug below the ground of the wall, exposing two more levels. They also cleared the area around the wall to create the Western Wall Plaza that visitors see today.
Because the wall now forms part of a larger wall that surrounds the Muslim Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqṣā Mosque, Jews and Arabs have frequently disputed control of the wall and even right of access to it. In more recent times there have unfortunately been terror attacks in the Old City, making it less attractive for visitors. I’m glad we saw it when we did.