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.

Monday, June 10, 2013

13. The Underground Western Wall

Photo taken from the Western Wall Tunnel looking down into an excavated area. You can see how deep the wall is going down.
The upper two photos are from the Western wall Tunnels and the bottom two are from the men's prayer room inside the Wilson's Arch.The white structures are parts of the plastic chairs kept over the opening.

Photo: 3 July 2009 (Western Wall Tunnels) and 7 May 2010 (Wilson's Arch)

In its entirety Western Wall of Temple Mount has a length of 1600 feet, a height of 105 feet and built with 45 layers of stones from different periods. However, most of the original Western Wall is hidden behind residential structures built along its length. Today’s Western Wall or the ‘Ha Kotel Ha Ma’aravi’ is only 187 feet long, 62 feet tall and consisting of 28 courses of stones.  Not many are aware that a big share of Western Wall is hidden underground today. In fact, 43 feet of Western Wall made of 17 layers of stones from Herodian Period are concealed beneath the modern ground level. You can see this hidden segment of Western Wall from a few glassed openings inside men's prayer area behind Wilson's Arch and in the Western Wall Tunnels.

The Wilson’s Arch is on the left extreme end of the men’s section of the Western Wall, while visitor’s face the wall. In the prayer area inside Wilson’s Arch, look for the glass covered openings close to the Western Wall. You have to take the guided tour inside the Western Wall tunnels to see the other openings.

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