Western Wall (HaKotel HaMaaravi)
Western Wall © Brian Jeffery Beggerly
The Western Wall, known to non-Jews as the Wailing Wall, is the most sacred Jewish prayer-site in the world. Thousands of worshippers gather year-round to pray here, and to place folded written prayers into the crevices of the wall. The 1,916-foot (584m) wall is all that remains of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, built in 30 BC by King Herod. It is made up of enormous stone blocks, and endures as a tribute to the scale of workmanship in past eras. Following Orthodox Jewish practice, the praying sections have been separated for men and women. Men are required to wear a skullcap (kippah) and women must be modestly dressed. On Fridays, the Jewish Shabbat or Sabbath, the men's section particularly pulsates with the songs and prayers of the faithful; in principle, the whole area is an Orthodox synagogue. The wall is also sacred to Muslims, who believe that it is where the prophet Muhammad tied up his winged horse, al-Buraq, before ascending into heaven. For those interested in the architectural and historical aspects of the Western Wall there is an interesting tunnel tour that takes visitors through excavations along the Wall, which is much more extensive than is visible from the famous square.
Be prepared to go through security and have your bags checked at the site and be aware that at some times, like when there are holy events underway, photography is not allowed.
Address: Temple Mount, Old City
Transport: Bus to Dung Gate