Walls of the Temple Mount

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Walls of the Temple Mount refer to the retaining and enclosure walls of Temple Mount (today known as Haram al-Sharif).


Charles Wilson was the first to pay proper scholarly attention to the stonework of the Haram el-Sharif (Temple Mount) walls when arriving in Jerusalem in the winter of 1864–1865 to conduct the first comprehensive mapping of the Old City (the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem). Many travelers and explorers before him, such as Edward Robinson, George Williams, Ermete Pierotti and James Fergusson, had noted the antiquity of these walls and the enormous size of some of its visible dressed stones.

Out of the four originally built, today only three are fully or partially visible and accessible. The northern wall of the Mount, together with the northern section of the western wall, is hidden behind residential buildings.

Wailing Wall

List of Walls

circa 500 BCE

Wailing Wall

Western Wall
The Western Wall, known in Arabic as al-Buraq Wall (حَائِط ٱلْبُرَاق), of the Temple Mount is the most notable part of Temple Mount, originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Temple. It has several key features like the Wailing wall, Robinson's Arch, Herodian Street, Wailing Wall Plaza (Kotel Plaza). The Western Wall is considered holy due to its connection to the Temple Mount. For Muslims, it is traditionally the site where the Islamic Prophet Muhammad tied his winged steed, al-Buraq, on his Isra and Mi'raj to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise, and constitutes the Western border of al-Haram al-Sharif.

circa 780 CE

Southern Wall of the Temple Mount

Southern Wall
The Southern Wall, 922 feet (281 m), is a wall at the southern end of the Haram al-Sharif and the former southern side of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It was built during King Herod's expansion of the Temple Mount platform southward on to the Ophel. Major points of interest include the Huldah Gates, Umayyad Palace, Crusader Gate, al Aqsa. The enormous retaining wall is built of enormous blocks of Jerusalem stone, and finely fitted together without any mortar. Herod's southern extension of the Temple Mount is clearly visible from the east, as a masonry joint.

circa 780 CE

Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount

Eastern Wall
The Eastern Wall is an ancient structure in Jerusalem that is both part of the eastern side of the city wall of Jerusalem and the eastern wall of the ancient Temple Mount. Parts of the eastern wall of Temple Mount belong to several eras of history dating as far back as to the time Hezekiah's reign. Several renovations to the wall were made during the times of Hezekiah, Zerubbabel, and in the Hasmonean and Herodian periods. Major points of interest include, (from south-north), as-Sirat Marker, masonry features, Golden Gate, Bab al-Rehma cemetery.

circa 780 CE

Northern Wall of the Temple Mount

Northern Wall
Today the Northern Wall is not an actual wall, rather a series of buildings constructed along the northern flank of the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). Remains of the actual northern wall of the Mount, together with the northern section of the western wall, is hidden behind residential buildings. The total lenght of the northern wall is some 1035 feet (315 meters). Major points of interest include Birkat Israel, Antonia Fortress, Faisal Gate. During the Second Temple era there may have been a gate more or less in the middle of this wall.

Notable Sections

circa 100 BCE

Wailing Wall

Little Western Wall
The Little Western Wall, which also dates from the Second Temple period, (516 BCE – 70 CE), is the continuation of the larger part of the Western Wall and almost exactly faces the Holy of Holies. HaKotel HaKatan is not as well-known and not as crowded as the larger part of the Western Wall. This passage alongside the wall is acutally the courtyard of Ribat al-Kurd, a hospice for Muslim pilgrims founded in 1293 or 96 by Sayf al-Din Kurd al-Mansuri, a mamluk of Sultan Qalawun.

circa 100 BCE

Wailing Wall

Wailing Wall
The Wailing Wall, also referred to as the Kotel, the Western Wall or Solomon's Wall, sections of which date back to about the second century BCE, is located in the Old Quarter of East Jerusalem in Israel/Palestine. Built of thick, corroded limestone, it is about 60 feet (20 meters) high and close to 160 feet (50 meters) long, though most of it is engulfed in other structures. The structure's description as the Wailing Wall derives from its Arabic identification as el-Mabka, or "place of weeping," frequently repeated by European — and particularly French — travelers to the Holy Land in the 19th century as "le mur des lamentations." Jewish devotions believe that the "divine presence never departs from the Western Wall."

circa 100 BCE

Robinson's Arch
The spring of an arch, discovered by Edward Robinson, that supported a massive staircase that passed over the arch, turned 90 degrees, and descended toward the viewer into the Tyropean Valley below. Above the arch was a high tower on which a priest would blow the trumpet to announce the beginning and end of the Sabbath day. The Roman soldiers dismantled the structures, including the tower, in 70 CE. It was built as part of the expansion of the Second Temple initiated by Herod the Great at the end of the 1st century BCE.


See Also


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