[Mom – September 25, 2019 – Today was very special as we visited the West Wall, the Temple Mount and the Israel Museum. Touching the West Wall was something we had only dreamed of ever doing. The Temple Mount is controlled by Muslims and they were not very happy about us being there. The Museum was wonderful and had so many different displays with the most important being the Dead Seas Scrolls. After the Dead Seas Scrolls each of us picked our favorite exhibit. Mine was the Peter and Pan exhibit which traced the story of Peter Pan’s origins back to the astrological days. Shane and Janice’s favorite (after the scrolls) was an exhibit on the origin and history of glass and its involvement over the years. Bill’s favorite was a model of what Jeresulem looked like 2000 years ago. We all agreed that we had a great day.]
We hear about the Western Wall when ever there is news about Israel and many of you might be wondering what exactly this is. Well as the name states it is the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, which on top is where the second temple, built in 516BC, was located. The temple was destroyed in 70AD by the Romans during the Jewish riots and the Temple Mount sat vacant, more or less, until the Muslims built al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock in the late 7th century AD.
The Temple Mount is WAY bigger than I expected since King Herod expanded it in 19BC beyond its original hill top size. It now measures almost half a kilometer long and a third of one wide. Over the last 2000 years the city has been built up around the Temple Mount so the northern wall and half the western wall have building built right against them and it is hard to distinguish the retaining walls. At the same time the other half of the west wall, the south wall, and the east wall are 40-80 feet high. It truly is spectacular.
Right next to the section the Jewish people prey at is the only place non-Muslims are allowed to ascend to the top of the Temple Mount via a tall, long, wooden ramp. One thing I did not do last time I was in Jerusalem and was excited about is to take an underground tour of the tunnels next to the part of the western retaining wall that is buried underneath the newer buildings. It was fascinating to see where the 2000 year old wall met the bedrock. If you ever take a West Wall Tour know that they offer several different tours and each has a different focus.