A sacred Jewish site, the Western Wall is one of Jerusalem’s holiest landmarks. Built by King Herod in 20 BC, it’s an ancient surviving remnant of the magnificent retaining wall that once encircled and supported the Second Temple. Jews were devastated when the Romans destroyed the building in 70 AD, and now gather at the site to lament the loss of their place of worship.
Today, believers make a beeline for the prayer section of the Western Wall. Visitors love to stuff the lower cracks with handwritten prayers, with others chanting, swaying and reciting sections from the Book of Psalms. Others descend on the Western Wall Plaza, a large outdoor area that serves as an open-air synagogue, and can accommodate tens of thousands of worshipers.
The ancient limestone wall is located within the Old City of Jerusalem. Eight gates lead into Jerusalem’s Old City, with the wall winding for more than 4 kilometres around its periphery. Visitors should note that the district is made up of narrow streets and steps, which makes walking the best way to explore both the Western Wall and the hidden gems of the Old City.
The demolition of the Second Temple was incredibly traumatic for Jerusalem’s Jewish population, with disciples still mourning the loss to this day. In fact, Europeans often refer to the site as the Wailing Wall, as Jews are known to weep openly at the site.