The Western Wall (Wailing Wall) – Jerusalem

The ‘Western Wall’ is the name given to a 187 foot wide exposed section of wall found on the western side of the Temple Mount. In front of the Wall is a plaza set aside for prayer. Actually, the entire length of the Wall runs 1,600 feet. Most of it however is behind or beneath residential structures built along its length. We would visit much of this later that evening during our excursion through the ‘Rabbinical Tunnel’.  

This stretch along with the wall and steps found on southern part of the platform is all that remains of the Jewish Temple. The moniker ‘Wailing Wall’ is a reference to the fact that for close to 2,000 years the Jews have longed for the restitution of their Temple.  Jews from all over the world have traveled to this place as it is the closest permitted accessible site to the where the Temple would have stood housing the Holy of Holies. Most Jewish traditions would forbid Jews from setting foot anywhere on the Temple Mount lest they tread on where the Holy of Holies might have been.

The Western Wall functions as a retaining wall. It was built to support the extensive renovation project that Herod the Great was commencing on the Temple at the end of 20BC.

From its foundation (below street level), the total height of the Wall is 105 feet high, with the exposed section rising up 62 feet. 

The Wall is comprised of 45 stone courses or layers; 28 of these are above ground and 17 are underground. As you move from the plaza level upward:

  • The first seven layers date from the time of Herod. Several of the stones here are decorated with pilasters – i.e., slightly projecting column reliefs (1st Century BC)
  • The next four layers date from the time of the Muslim conquest under the Umayyad caliphates (7th Century AD)
  • The fourteen layers above that date from the time of Ottoman rule. These are actually attributed to Sir Montefiore, who arranged for them to be added to provide shade and protection for those praying at the Wall (1966)
  • The top three layers were placed there by the Mufti of Jerusalem prior to 1967

Did You Know?

This portion of the Wall owing to Herod the Great is built from enormous stones, averaging between two and eight tons each.  

One stone found within the Rabbinical Tunnel is over 30 feet long and is estimated to weigh 570 tons. 

Each stone is surrounded by a finely chiseled marginal draft. This is referred to as ‘Herod’s Margin’.  These recesses measure between 2 and 8 inches from the stones edge and are @ 1½ cms in depth. 


These stones are so finely and accurately cut that no mortar was necessary.  

Scriptural Significance

The Western Wall and the unbroken line of historical evidence associated with it serve as stark evidence to the fact that both the Solomonic and Herodian Temples once stood. Again, the veracity of Scripture is confirmed!