Jews from across the globe visit Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall to pray and leave prayer notes in its cracks, affirming their belief that Divine Presence never leaves this space.
The Western Wall (or Kotel Maaravi), was constructed by Herod in 19 BCE as part of his plan to enlarge Temple Mount. Both men and women can access this wall, though female visitors should cover their shoulders and legs when entering.
It’s a place of prayer
No trip to Jerusalem would be complete without visiting the Wailing Wall (Kotel), an 2,000-year-old limestone wall containing fragments from the Second Jewish Temple that are considered one of Judaism’s holiest sites and an iconic feature of its Old City. Many Jews from across all walks of life come together here for prayer or mourning purposes as it represents what has been lost – in both cases symbolising how far Jews have fallen since their temples’ fall.
At the time of Roman destruction of the Second Temple, only this retaining wall stood as a testimony to Herod as a tribute to his father and is known in Judaism as the ‘Wailing Wall.’ Today, thousands of Jewish people gather here three times each day to pray, wearing white and blue robes and holding phylacteries around their neck and wrist to show their piety – it remains an integral part of Jerusalem for Jews alike and a visit can be truly moving.
The Western Wall’s sandstone walls were constructed over several phases. The first layer dates back to King Herod, when 45 stone courses were laid. Today, its total length stands at about 490 meters but only 57 are easily accessible – with most remaining covered by houses which cling tightly against its slope.
Prior to the late 19th century, Jewish worship at the Western Wall was unplanned and dispersed. Surrounded by houses, its only section open for prayer was a narrow alley less than four meters wide by 28 meters long (less than six percent of its length), enclosed by Muslim Mughrabi Quarter.
Israeli authorities greatly increased prayer space at the Western Wall after 1967’s Six-Day War, leading to widespread expansion. Although most religious Jews revere it as their holiest site, some ultra-Orthodox groups like Satmar Hasidic believe its increasing popularity degrades its sacred status; to address this situation, government efforts have included creating an egalitarian prayer area nearby.
It’s a place of mourning
The Western Wall, or Wailing Wall as it’s commonly known, stands as an impressive reminder of ancient Jewish temples that once graced Jerusalem’s Old City Temple Mount and remains an integral part of Jewish pilgrimage and prayer today. Many believers still visit this holy site regularly, believing in its divine connection.
The Western Wall’s traditional name comes from its historical association with lamenting the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. Jews from around the world come together at this wailing wall, often leaving slips with prayers or wishes in its cracks. Furthermore, many fast at this site on Shabbat.
Near the Dome of the Rock is the Wailing Wall, believed by many Jews to be the nearest point to where Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber in the original Jewish Temple was housed. As one of only two remnants from Temple Mount which were not destroyed by Babylonians (587 BCE and 70 CE respectively), Western Wall can also still be reached by Jews today.
Israel took control of the Old City in 1967 and since then has increased the area available for worship at the Western Wall and adjacent plaza, though Muslim and Jewish groups continue to face controversy surrounding this space. Muslim worshippers from Temple Mount may throw rocks or projectiles onto Jewish worshipers below while more recently there has been protest by Women of the Wall who advocate for equal access.
The Wailing Wall is one of Judaism’s holiest sites. Constructed from ancient stonework, this ancient structure serves as part of Temple Mount’s outer retaining wall and serves as one of three prayer spaces worldwide. Three times every day Jews pray here with white and blue prayer shawls on their foreheads or wrists while wearing phylacteries or praying wearing white and blue prayer beads while reading from Torah (Jewish holy book) during services held here.
It’s a place of celebration
An essential stop when visiting Jerusalem is HaKotel Hamaaravi (Wailing Wall). As the only remaining remnant of Temple Mount and holiest site recognized by Jews outside its actual Temple itself, Jews gather here three times daily to mourn and pray for their future at this wall adorned with white and blue prayer shawls and phylacteries; many also attach notes with prayers attached directly onto cracks in its stone surface.
The Wall’s significance as a place of worship was first realized during the sixteenth century when Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent oversaw clearing away of debris near homes nearby and declared it as a Jewish prayer area – not as an alternative site but instead to make this area the focal point for Jewish religious piety.
At that time, the area surrounding the Western Wall consisted of a narrow alley measuring four meters wide by 28 meters long – less than six percent of its total length – enclosed by Muslim Moroccan Quarter dating back fourteenth-century Spain. Jews typically only visited this site during holidays such as Tisha B’Av and other important celebrations when crowds would congregate around it.
Today, the Wailing Wall is one of Israel’s premier tourist attractions with an estimated 1.5 million annual visitors. Jews come from all over to pray at it and leave messages for loved ones between the stones; additionally it’s also an increasingly popular venue to celebrate Bar Mitzvahs, an important ritual marking their transition into adulthood.
As Israeli society has become more divided and fractured, its symbolic role as a unifying symbol has declined significantly. The Wall has demonstrated the limitations of urban planning as an instrument for shaping Jerusalem’s identity in light of its complicated past; plans for its construction tend to erase living memories associated with an Arab/Muslim heritage while reinforcing an imagined narrative about its Jewish past.
It’s a place of wonder
The Kotel, or Wailing Wall, has become the centerpiece of religious tension in Jerusalem since it has become an emblematic representation of Judaism. Comprised of 57 meters-long fragment of Temple Mount, Jews from all around visit it to pray and place prayer requests into crevices along its length; many believe their prayers will come true. Additionally, Bar Mitzvah ceremonies take place here regularly, which only adds to its unique and mystical atmosphere; when approaching it it’s wise to wear modest clothing and cover your head when approaching it’s important that these sacred grounds be treated properly; wearing modest clothing as you approach might prevent unnecessary encounters between visitors and local authorities!
The “Wailing Wall” symbolizes Jewish sorrow over the destruction of their Temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. It is thought to have been constructed under Herod; lower sections can still be seen today while upper sections were added in seventh century AD. A loud sound can often be heard emanating from those slipping prayer notes between cracks of the wall – these notes are removed twice annually to be buried on Olives Mountain.
Although widely acknowledged as Judaism’s holiest site, the Wailing Wall is much younger than commonly assumed. It only became holy in the nineteenth century after becoming an emblem of Jewish nationalism; before that point, its Western Wall existed only as a narrow alley four meters wide by 28 meters long (representing only six percent of its full length), enclosed within an enclosure belonging to 14th-century Muslim Moroccan Quarter.
Since its remains are so disintegrated and damaged, identifying who built the wall can be challenging. Furthermore, it remains uncertain whether it was built during or after the time of the Jewish temple; recent theories propose it could have been originally an ancient Roman gate or maybe it was given by God to commemorate its destruction.
As one of the holiest sites for both Jews and non-Jews alike, it should be treated as holy ground by visitors from both backgrounds – religious or otherwise – regardless of your denominational background. You won’t soon forget the charm and history of this remarkable location!