Quick Review of the Western Wall Tunnel
How to get there
Due to lack of parking we recommend using public transportation to reach the Western Wall.
The following buses reach the Western Wall-1,2,38.
It is also possible to take a taxi.
One cam drive to the Western Wall and park in the
following parking lots:
1.The Karta Parking Lot & Mamilla to the Old City next to Mall Parking Lot-near the entrance to the Old City next to Jaffa Gate (fee).
2.The Giva’ti Parking Lot-outside the Dung Gate, opposite the entrance to the City of David(fee).
3.The Mount Zion Parking Lot-is meant for buses only (free).
The Western Wall is wheelchair accessible.
The Western Wall Tunnel is an underground tunnel exposing the Western Wall in its full length. The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located under buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. While the open-air portion of the Western Wall is approximately 60 m long, the majority of its original length is hidden underground. The tunnel allows access to an additional 485 meters of the wall.In 19 BCE, King Herod undertook a project to double the area of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by incorporating part of the hill on the Northwest. In order to do so, four retaining walls were constructed, and the Temple Mount was expanded on top of them. These retaining walls remained standing, along with the platform itself, after the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, but since then much of the area next to them became covered and built upon. Part of the Western Wall remained exposed after the destruction of the Temple, since it was the closest area to the Temple’s Holy of Holies that remained accessible, it became a place of Jewish prayer for millennia.
”Warren’s Gate” lies about 150 feet into the tunnel. This sealed-off entrance has been turned into a small synagogue called “The Cave”, by Rabbi Yehuda Getz, since it is the closest point a Jew can get to the Holy of Holies, assuming it was located at the traditional site under the Dome of the Rock. At the northern portion of the Western Wall, remains of a water channel, which originally supplied water to the Temple Mount, were found. The exact source of the channel is unknown, though it passes through an underground pool known as the “Strouthion Pool”. The water channel was dated to the Hasmonean period and was accordingly dubbed the “Hasmonean Channel”.
The biggest stone in the Western Wall often called the Western Stone is also revealed within the tunnel and ranks as one of the heaviest objects ever lifted by human beings without powered machinery. The stone has a length of 13.6 meters and an estimated width of between 3.5 and 4.5 meters. Estimates place its weight at 570 short tons.
Originally, tourists in the tunnel had to retrace their steps back to the entrance. A connection to the Hasmonean water system was made, but this still required tourists to eventually make a U-turn once they had reached the Strouthion Pool. Digging an alternative exit from the tunnel was proposed, but initially rejected on the grounds that any exit would be seen as an attempt by the Jewish authorities to stake a claim to ownership of the nearby land – part of the Muslim Quarter of the city.
In 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu authorized the creation of an exit leading to the Via Dolorosa, underneath the Ummariya madrasah. Over the subsequent few weeks, 80 people had been killed as a result of riots against the creation of the exit. A modern wall divides the Struthion pool into two parts, preventing access between them. One side is visible from the western wall tunnels, the other is area accessible from the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. Since then, it has been possible for large numbers of tourists to enter the tunnel’s southern entrance near the Western Wall, walk the tunnel’s length with a tour guide, and exit from the northern end.
British researchers started excavating the Western Wall in the mid 19th century. Charles Wilson in 1864 followed by Charles Warren in 1867-70. Wilson discovered an arch “Wilson’s Arch” which was 12.8 meters wide and is above present-day ground level. It is believed that the arch supported a bridge which connected the Temple Mount to the city during the Second Temple Period. Warren dug shafts through Wilson’s Arch which are still visible today.
After the Six Day War, the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Israel began the excavations aimed at exposing the continuation of the Western Wall. The excavations lasted almost twenty years and revealed many previously unknown facts about the history and geography of the Temple Mount. The excavations were difficult to conduct, as the tunnels ran below residential neighborhoods constructed on top of ancient structures from the Second Temple Period. The excavations were conducted with the supervision of scientific and rabbinic experts. This was to ensure both the stability of the structures above and to prevent damaging the historic artifacts.
In 1988 the Western Wall Heritage Foundation was formed, it took over the excavation, maintenance and renovations of the Western Wall and Western Wall Plaza.