Thursday, May 3, 2012

Israel Day 10 - The Western Wall Tunnel

One place I had not made it to when I was a student was the recently opened Western Wall Tunnel.  The Kotel (also known as the Western Wall or Wailing Wall) is only a small fraction of the much larger retaining wall upon which the Temple Mount currently stands.

Archeologists along with religious Jews have been digging a tunnel that runs the entirety of the Western Wall.  This wall was a matter of controversy, though much of the controversy actually was based on simple misunderstandings, which unfortunately happen all too often in the Middle East.

Part of this controversy is because the Temple Mount now houses two of Islam's most important holy sites the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.  A rumor started spreading that the tunnel was being created to undermine the foundations of these two sites.  Sadly far too many lives were lost before the correct information was disseminated and the public realized they had been misinformed about the nature of the tunnel.

There is a point in the tunnel that gets one as physically close to where the Holy of Holies once stood without standing on the Temple Mount.  One can find Orthodox Women praying there.  It is believed to be a particularly holy site.

I found it to be a fascinating tour:

Interactive Model of the Western Wall Tunnel

Pillars dating back to Roman times

Cistern at the end of the Tunnel

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