JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

12. The Small or Little Western Wall (Kotel Ha Katan)-1st Cent. BC

Look for the Hebrew sign in the upper photo; the lower photo is from the Sha'ar Ha Barzel Street
Entrance to the Small Western Wall

The tunneled passage to the small Western Wall

Remember that only the basal two layers (large stones) are from the Heodian Temple
Photos: 16 December, 2009.

The original Western Wall is about half a kilometer long (488 meters), but most of which serve today as walls of Arab residential buildings from the Mamluk and Ottoman era. The modern Western Wall (the Kotel) is only a 57 meters (187 feet) exposed section of this ancient wall from the Second Jerusalem Temple. However, few are aware of a ‘Small Western Wall’ (Kotel Ha-Katan), located just 200 meters north of the Kotel, inside the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Kotel Ha Katan is an exposed (i.e., with no houses covering it) segment of the Western Wall inside an Arab residential area of the Old City. Interestingly, the Kotel Ha-Katan is considered even holier than the Kotel since it is believed to be closer to the ‘Holy of Holies’ of Jerusalem Temple than any of the stones in the popular Western Wall. In fact, it is the second closest spot to the Holy of Holies (outside of the Temple Mount) where Jews can pray, the closest location is inside the Western Wall Tunnels. The Kotel Ha Katan is also much lower than the Kotel and lies on the same level as the Temple Mount itself. In Kotel Ha Katan, only the two lowest level of stones date from the Second Temple period, whereas in the main Kotel, there are seven rows from the same period. 

Despite being a site holier than the main Western Wall, the Kotel Ha Katan is visited by only a few worshipers, mainly because of its sensitive location inside the Muslim Quarter of Old City and its much smaller and narrower size (it is only 8 meters/25 feet long and 3 meters/10 feet wide) compared to the main Western Wall Plaza (57 meters/187 feet long and 38 meters/125 feet wide). Arab residents, who call it Rabat el-Kurd, use it as a passageway. For general tourists, the existence of such a wall is relatively unknown and a bit tricky to locate.


To reach the Small Western Wall from the Western Wall Plaza, walk north (into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City) through the Rehov Ha Gai (El-Wad Street). Skip the first junction (you will see Suq al-Qattanin/Cotton Market Street, on your right and Hebron/Al-Halediya Street on your left) and keep walking in the El-Wad Street until you reach the Sha’ar Ha Barzel Street (Iron Gate Road) on your right. Go up to the end of this street which goes to the Bab el Hadid (Iron Gate), one of the entrances to the Temple Mount. Remember to take the narrow street to your left (Rabat el-Kurd) just before the Iron Gate. You should see an arrowed Hebrew sign in the turning saying L’Kotel Ha Katan (to the Small Western Wall), the way leads into the tunneled entrance to the Kotel Ha Katan. See the following map for a better picture. 
                                                                      Courtesy-Google Maps 

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