Along the outer face of the Herodian western wall of the Temple Mount, a long narrow tunnel was dug slowly under the supervision of archeologists. As work progressed under the buildings of the present Old City, the tunnel was systematically reinforced with concrete supports. A stretch of the Western Wall — nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) long — was revealed in pristine condition, exactly as constructed by Herod. In this confined space, you are walking on the original pavement from the Second Temple period and following in the footsteps of the pilgrims who walked here 2,000 years ago on their way to participate in the rituals on the Temple Mount. At the end of this man-made tunnel, a 65 foot (20 meters) long section of a paved road and an earlier, rock-cut Hasmonean aqueduct leading to the Temple Mount were uncovered. A short new tunnel leads outside to the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter.
Entering a tunnel at the prayer plaza, one turns northwards into a medieval complex of subterranean vaulted spaces and a long corridor with rooms on either side. Incorporated into this complex is a Roman and medieval structure of vaults, built of large dressed limestone.The vaulted complex ends at Wilson's Arch, named after the explorer who discovered it in the middle of the 19th century.
The Western Wall in the midst of the Old City in Jerusalem is the section of the Western supporting wall of the Temple Mount which has remained intact since the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple (70 A.C.). It became the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national consciousness and tradition by virtue of its proximity to the Western Wall of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, from which, according to numerous sources, the Divine Presence never departed. It became a center of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel's exile, on the one hand, and of religious - in 20th century also national - communion with the memory of Israel's former glory and the hope for its restoration, on the other. Because of the former association, it became known in European languages as the "Wailing Wall".
From the Mount Zion height, the Holy City and the outer Wall appear in their white splendour, with Mount Scopus in the distance.
For a special view of the Old City of Jerusalem and the surrounding area, take a walk on the ancient walls. There are two entrance points for a "ramparts walk" at the Jaffa Gate, one immediately inside the gate and one near the entrance to David's Citadel. You climb the stairs at one of these points and follow the route of the wall around the city, either north or south. Don't worry: there's a guard rail. The entire length is 4 kilometers - but you don't have to do it all. Each way takes about an hour. The entrance point at the Jaffa Gate is up a narrow flight of stairs. At the top is a ticket booth. The price is 16 shekels for adults and 8 shekels for children. Following this route will take you north, overlooking the Christian and Muslims quarters, ending at the Via Dolorosa. You don't need to be particularly fit for this, but there are some steep flights of stairs to negotiate, and the paths are of rough hewn stones, so don't try this in stiletto heels.
The « high city » of Jerusalem, in Hebrew Yerushalayim (Dwelling of Peace), in Greek and latin Hierosolyma, in Arabic El-Quds (« holy »), once the capital of the Jewish Kingdom, is the capital of the State of Israel and the See of a Greek Orthodox, an Armenian and a Roman Catholic patriarch and of an Anglican bishop. As the city of the Temple of David and Solomon, the site of Christ’s passion and the place from which Mohammed ascended into heaven, Jerusalem is revered by Jews, Christians and Moslems alike. Its status as a “holy” city is uniquely evidenced by the abundance of holy places sacred to the three monotheistic religions. Consequently every year the city is visited by pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.
Esplanade du Temple, now Esplanade of the Mosques, lieu sacré musulman with the Dome of the Rock
At the Wailing Wall, Jews gather to offer their prayers in a public display of fervour
The Temple Square (Haram esh-Sharif) also called Esplanade of the Mosques, is entered through the Gate of the Moroccans. The main buildings in the Temple Square are related to each other: the Dome of the Rock as the place of the veneration of the holy rock and the El Aqsa Mosque.
The mosque was built on the site of Justinian's basilica dedicated to the Virgin, by the Omayyad Caliph Al Walid I (705-715). The Crusaders looked upon it as the Temple of Solomon. The interior with its seven naves is astonishing. The building has been restored several times, most recently in 1938-43 when it received the white Carrara marble columns presented by Mussolini and the ceiling donated by King Farouk of Egypt.
In 1951, King Abdullah of Jordan was shot when entering the mosque.
The outer walls of the Dome form a large octagon. The diameter of the inner rotunda, the height of the drum and the height of the dome are almost the same (19.8 m and 20.1 m). The overall height (54 m) is only slightly more than the overall diameter (52 m) of the building. The ratio of the outer octagon to the height of the dome is 1:3. Suleiman the Magnificent covered the octagon with coloured tiles.The elegant gilded aluminium dome was restored in 1958-64.
The Dome of the Rock, one of the most important monuments of Islam, is still incorrectly called "Omar Mosque", although it is not a mosque and does not date back to the Caliph Omar.
It is a round building consisting of an octogonal lower storey surmounted by a dome over the holy Moriah rock. The Jews and Muslims believe that the Rock marks the spot where Abraham intended to sacrifice Isaac and where Mohammed was carried up into Heaven on the miraculous horse Burak. Under the rock is a cave which the Muslims call "Bir el arwah" (Fountain of souls) and which they believe is where the souls of the dead gather to pray.
On March 27, 2000, Pope John Paul II prayed at the Western Wall and placed a praying chit in a cleft between the sacred stones.