Descend into the Jewish nation’s history in the 322-meter underground tunnel, at the spot closest to where the Temple once stood.
The Western Wall Tunnel was discovered 150 years ago, but was only opened to the general public in 1984. In 1996, the exit from the tunnel to the Via Dolorosa was breached. A visit to the tunnel is an experience that will fill visitors with awe, as it combines mythical forces, legends, history and politics – all in the spot closest to the remnants of the Holy Temple. The underground tunnels span the length of the Western Wall, under the homes in the Old City of Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter. The site contains spaces that have been connected to allow visitors to pass between the different splendid structures and the homes from the era of the Second Temple, the foundations of the Crusader church and buildings from the Middle Ages, wells, quarries, a canal from the Hasmonean period and more. The Western Wall is recognized as a 62-meter remnant of the Temple, though the tunnels reveal that it actually extends 488 meters.
A tour of the tunnels begins at the entrance gate adjacent to the Western Wall platform, through a passageway to the largest of the tunnel halls, which contains a model of the Temple Mount, Temple and Muslim Quarter. Continue towards the Western Wall itself, which displays a building method unique to the Herodian Era, an imprecise style that grants the Western Wall a particularly impressive look, with engineering reinforcement.
Visitors pass to Warren’s Gate, which is now blocked with cement, but was one of the four gates to the Temple Mount during the Second Temple period, through which individuals could reach the Holy of the Holies (Kodesh Hakodashim): The Foundation Stone from which, according to the Jewish faith, the world was created and on which the Holy Arc stood in the First and Second Temples. At the end of the tunnel, visitors reach a Herodian street, with the original stones still intact, that was used by the city’s upper class, merchants and Roman monarchy. From there, visitors continue on to the stunning Hasmonean canal from the second century B.C.E., at the end of which they reach the Lark Pool, under the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Sion; another right turn in the short tunnel will lead to the Via Dolorosa in the Old City.
Entrance to the Western Wall Tunnel must be coordinated in advance, and is available for groups of up to 30 people, which must be accompanied a guide. Individuals can join groups (cost: NIS 7-18). The site is closed on Saturdays. For more information and to coordinate a visit, call 02-627-1333.