Western Wall Tunnel (Kotel), Jerusalem

Western Wall Tunnel (Kotel), Jerusalem (must see)

Visitors to Jerusalem can catch a glimpse of the relatively small, 200-foot above-ground section of the Western Wall near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City; however, for a more extensive exploration of the wall and the structures beneath it, they can venture into the Western Wall Tunnel. Independent exploration of the tunnel is not permitted, but visitors can arrange to visit as part of a guided tour group. It's advisable to book well in advance, as tours have limited capacity and fill up quickly.

The journey begins beneath Wilson's Arch, unveiling 14th-century "secret passages" from the Mamluk period where provisions like food and water were stored inside the vault under the Herodian double-decker bridge. Adjacent to this area is an auditorium showcasing a detailed 3-D model depicting Jerusalem during the Second Temple era, complete with illuminated and movable elements. Descending two storeys further, visitors encounter remains dating back to the Hasmonean period, proceeding alongside the Western Wall. Noteworthy sights include a massive stone support, Warren's Gate, and a synagogue believed to date from Umayyad times.

In 1987, Israeli archaeologists attempted to breach Warren's Gate in pursuit of accessing the Holy of Holies, where the biblical Ark of the Covenant is believed to be buried; however, their project was halted when they discovered a massive cistern behind the gate, preventing further excavation. The tunnel continues through narrow passages until reaching bedrock, eventually leading to a Hasmonean water cistern. The culmination of the tour features a glass walkway traversing the narrow Hasmonean Aqueduct, bordered by towering algae-stained rock slabs, leading to a staircase descending to the Struthion Pool – utilized as a cistern during Roman times. Exiting near the First Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter, visitors experience an impressive journey through Jerusalem's historical layers.

Tip:
For those prone to claustrophobia, remain composed, as alcoves provide breathing space throughout the tunnel. Additionally, temperatures tend to be warm underground during winter, alleviating the need for excessive layering.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Jerusalem. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Western Wall Tunnel (Kotel) on Map

Sight Name: Western Wall Tunnel (Kotel)
Sight Location: Jerusalem, Israel (See walking tours in Jerusalem)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark

Walking Tours in Jerusalem, Israel

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