Western WallOther Sacred Sites and Religious Art | February 24, 2010
The Western Wall (HaKotel HaMa’aravi in Hibrew and Ḥā’iṭ Al-Burāq in Arabic) is a Jewish religious site located in the Old City of Jerusalem. The wall is also referred to as Wailing Wall or simply the Kotel. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates back to the end of the Second Temple period. It was being constructed around 19 BC by Herod the Great. The remaining layers of the wall were added from the 7th century onwards by the Umayyads and the Ottoman kings.
Western Wall is 488 metre long and is the biggest Jewish pilgrimage in the world. It draws thousands of devout Jews every year who come to pray and stick prayer notes and goodwill messages into the cracks of the wall. Even the foreign head of states during their visit to Israel pay a visit to the wall.
Western Wall has been under Israeli control since 1967. It is also sacred to Muslims who earnestly believe that the wall is located in the place where Prophet Mohammed had tied up his winged horse, al-Burak, before ascending to the heaven. The wall has two sections of prayer, the left for men and the right for women.
The first temple was built in the 10th century BC but was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
The second temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 AD following the first war between the Jewish people and the Romans.
From the 16th century right upto the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire of Turkey had ruled over the wall and thereafter it went under the control of British Mandate of Palestine where it remained till 1948. From 1948-67, the Jordanians claimed rule over Jerusalem. The Jews had no access to the wall during this entire period and it was only after Israel won control over Jerusalem and West Bank that they gained free access to the site. Ever since, Jews from across the world have made it a point to hold their Bar Mitzvah services at the wall. The wall has been a reason for political and communal tension on a number of occasions in course of history.
Western Wall in popular culture:
Jews often throng the Western Wall and engage in sorrowful meditation over the history of their race and are often found repeating words of the Seventy-ninth Psalm. Particularly on Fridays, Jews congregate in large numbers to kiss the sacred stones of the wall and weep outside the precincts.
Reaching Western Wall:
- By air:
Western Wall can be reached through Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.
- By road:
Public bus services are available while by car,. One can take Hwy-1 to central Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.