The Western Wall Tunnels


Useful Information

Location: Jerusalm, Old City, temple mount.
Open: All year Sun-Thu 8:30-15:30, Fri 8:30-12. [2004]
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Dimension: L=320m.
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Address: Western Wall Tunnel, Tel: +972-2627-1333.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1864 explored by Charles Wilson.
1867-1870 explored by Charles Warren.
1967 more tunnels discovered by engineers laying water pipes.
1996 exit blasted.

Description

The Western Wall or Kotel is the only extant remnant of the 2nd Temple. It serves as the Western retaining wall of the Temple courtyard. It is the holiest of all Jewish sites, Jews came here for centuries to pray and mourn. The site is especially visited on Sabbaths and Festivals and the 9th of Av - the anniversary of the destruction of both the 1st and 2nd Temples.

Inside the wall is a complex network of caverns and passageways running parallel to the Western Wall. They were discovered in 1967 by engineers laying water pipes. Over decades they were excavated by archeologists, supervised by the archeologists M. Ben-Dov and later by D. Bahat on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The underground tunnels are starting at the north-west of the prayer plaza. They pass close to that part of the Western Wall which is hidden by buildings. They continue through a system of vaulted areas and water cisterns. About 350m of the Wall up to the northern edge, which is the north-western corner of the Temple Mount, can be seen. In one tunnel the largest stones of the Wall were found, including a giant stone 60m long, 3m high and 4m wide, weighing approximately 400 tons.