The Kotel: ‘Just like a phone call to God’

CITYsights: The Western Wall’s proximity to the location of the Holy of Holies makes it one of the most sacred sites to Jews.

Kotel storm FOR GALLERY (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Kotel storm FOR GALLERY
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, also known as the Wailing Wall and the Kotel, is one of the retaining walls of the Temple Mount, where the first and second temples once stood. The Wall stretches for 488 meters, 57 meters of which are exposed in a large plaza. It is some 32 meters high, with the visible section revealing approximately 19 meters. The Western Wall Tunnels run along much of the hidden section of the Wall, revealing its true enormity.
As guide and archaeologist Danny Herman explains in this week’s CITYsights video, the Western Wall survived the Roman assault on Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E., and its massive stones are the same stones laid down by King Herod, meaning they’ve been in place for 2,000 years. This is one reason why the Wall is held so sacred by Jews. Another reason is that the Western Wall is the closest one can come to the location of the Temple’s Holy of Holies without actually ascending the Temple Mount.
The Western Wall is the most popular of Jerusalem attractions, drawing millions from all over the world every year. Some come to pray; others remain silent, laying their weary brows against the worn, warm stones. Still others write their innermost wants on small pieces of paper and insert them in the cracks. In the words of a wise rabbi, “You can contact the Lord anywhere, but here it’s like a local phone call.”
Check out the video for the full story and stay tuned for more episodes of CITYsights. is a new online international travel portal offering all the latest information on things to do and places to stay in Jerusalem.