Western wall, Jerusalem

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West Jerusalem, IL
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The Western Wall, commonly referred to as the Wailing Wall in the West and the Buraq Wall in Islam, is a section of an ancient limestone wall situated in the Old City of Jerusalem.

This wall is a part of the larger retaining wall on the hill recognized by Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount. Roughly more than half of the wall’s entire height, which includes 17 layers beneath street level, dates back to the conclusion of the Second Temple era.

This construction is believed to have been initiated by Herod the Great. The sizable stone blocks forming the lower layers are attributed to Herodian craftsmanship, while the intermediate-sized stone layers above them were added during the Umayyad period. The smaller stones in the uppermost layers, particularly from the Ottoman period, complete the wall’s composition.

Significance

The Western Wall holds immense significance in Judaism due to its close proximity to the Temple Mount. Given the access restrictions on the Temple Mount, the Wall holds a unique place as the most sacred site where Jews are allowed to offer prayers outside the previous Temple Mount platform.

This is because it is believed to be the location of the Holy of Holies, the holiest site in Jewish faith, situated just behind it. The original, natural, and uneven shape of the Temple Mount was gradually expanded to accommodate the construction of an increasingly larger Temple complex at its summit. The earliest known reference identifying this specific site as a place of Jewish worship dates back to the 17th century.

The Western Wall also holds significance in Islamic tradition, being believed to be the spot where the Islamic Prophet Muhammad tied his winged steed, al-Buraq, during his Isra and Mi’raj journey to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise. It also constitutes the western boundary of al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, commonly known as the Al-Aqsa compound.

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