Western Wall, a sacred place in Jerusalem of Jews. Western Wall Tunnels is one of the most popular tourist spots in Jerusalem. Few areas are restricted to visit, while few are explored more by tourist. The underground tunnel is connected with Western Wall Prayer area which is at the North- West side of the temple mount. While, passing through the temple mount, the path is second temple period as well as few structures from later periods. The experience is unique to walk through the tunnel, the ambience takes you back to time of the second temple.
During Hasmonean Period till the Roman Destruction period of Jerusalem, the area of the temple mount was connected to the western side of Jerusalem. There were four different gates, two on lower level and the other two on top of the bridges. There is a paved street in front of the temple mount also additional structures at street level. After the Roman destruction, amount of debris was accumulated along the western side.
After two millenniums, a new building was constructed on top of these old structures. The old structures remained buried in a year’s deep underground unseen and untouched. In the 19th century, explorers examined the underground cavities and tunnels in search of second temple remains.
Wilson & Warren explorer managed to explore under section of tunnels, in search of second temple remains. But the research was limited by Ottoman rulers. After 1967’s six-day war, when the power of the area was returned to Israeli control, the underground area was thoroughly researched and reconstructed, still few areas are under excavations.
The site was opened for tourist from 1996, the tunnel was 500m long along the buried north-western wall. The route of the western wall tunnel starts from the north side of prayer area and ends Via Dolorosa. Booking should be done in advance.
Plan of Western Wall Tunnel
Below are the highlights of Tunnels:
- Secret Passage
- Large Hall
- Second Temple Period Staircase
- Western Wall tunnel
- Warren’s gate
And many more spots to explore!
Secret Passage way
During the Roman period, the western entrance, which is also known as Wilson arch is an over bridge located on the north side of the western wall prayer area. The bridge was removed to cut the communication between the temple and city. The bridge was destroyed during Titu’s attack in 70AD. The bridge also connected to the upper city area, which was repaired by the Romans in the 3rd century after they established Roman temple on the temple mount.
The passage or cavity below the street was known as ‘secret passage’, it stretches long 70m-from Hagai Street to temple mount on the east. At present, it serves as an entrance to underground tour.
The Wilson Arch and long tunnel guide us to ‘large Hall’. The high ceiling offers a great view of the western wall. On reaching toward west side of the wall, a model of the second temple is placed. The tour guide will describe the tale of the second temple.
Second temple period Staircase
Excavation is still in process around the area of ‘secret passage’. The archaeologist revealed second temple period stairs and other ancient stuff.
Western Wall tunnel
A modern tunnel was constructed at the base of the wall, at Roman street level. The place supports old city and structures above it, which were built during the medieval period. A Large number of large stones were found lying around Roman paved street, the large stones were thrown by Roman soldiers during invading Jerusalem. It is considered as an evidence of destruction which was found in South-West Wall.
The gate is presently sealed, which is located in the north at 40m of Wilson arch. The entrance is located at the bottom of ancient wall, at height of street level during the second temple period. The gate opens at the Holy of Holies and foundation stone, and hence considered as holiest gate. It was discovered by Charles Warren.