Western Wall of Temple Mount

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Western wall is a remnant of Herod's grand temple, and is the most holiest site for Jews. It attracts thousands of Jewish worshippers daily, who come to pray and lay out their problems and seek for heavenly guidance. They feel the presence of God's spirit, who according to their belief resides for thousands of years in the holy temple. The western wall is believed to be the remnant of the Herod's Temple.


The Western Wall, Wailing Wall (Hebrew: הַכּוֹתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי‎, HaKotel HaMa'aravi), often shortened to Kotel or Kosel, known in Islam as the Buraq Wall (Ḥā'iṭ al-Burāq حَائِط ٱلْبُرَاق) is an ancient limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, and Muslims as the Haram as-Sharif.

Wailing Wall

Notable Sections

circa 100 BCE

Wailing Wall

Wailing Wall
The Wailing wall also known in Arabic as Al-Buraq Wall is a section of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, and is holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray. It is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known also in its entirety as the "Western Wall". The term Wailing Wall refers to the practice of Jews weeping at the site over the destruction of the Temples.

Herodian street along the western wall of the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif)

Herodian Street
Herodian street and shops along the western wall of the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif). Pile of stones from 70 CE destruction of Jerusalem can also be seen in the background. This same street ran from the northwest corner all along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount to the southwest corner (see photo below). It then continued all the way down through the City of David to the Pool of Siloam, where a large portion of it has been excavated. The street was originally built by Herod the Great and later repaved by Herod Agrippa I around 40-44 CE.

Robinson's Arch, Temple Mount

Robinson's Arch
Robinson's Arch is the name given to a monumental staircase carried by an unusually wide stone arch, which once stood at the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount. 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. The massive stone span was constructed along with the retaining walls of the Temple Mount. It carried traffic up from ancient Jerusalem's Lower Market area and over the Tyropoeon street to the Royal Stoa complex on the esplanade of the Mount.

Little Western Wall
The Little Western Wall, also known as HaKotel HaKatan (or just Kotel Katan) and the Small Kotel, (Hebrew: הכותל הקטן‎), is a Jewish religious site located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Iron Gate to the Temple Mount. The wall itself dates from the Second Temple period, (516 BCE – 70 CE). It is the continuation of the larger part of the Western Wall and almost exactly faces the Holy of Holies.

Wilson's Arch and Synagogue
Wilson's Arch is the modern name for the ancient stone arch whose top is still visible today, where it is supported against the Northeast corner of Jerusalem's Western Wall, so that it appears on the left to visitors facing the Wall. Women's section/balcony is visible to the top left behind the book cabinet. It once spanned 42 feet (13 m), supporting a road that continued for 75 feet (23 m) and allowed access to a gate that was level with the surface of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple period.


Gate of the Cotton Merchants
Cotton Merchants' Gate, Arabic: bab al-Qattanin‎, is one of the most beautiful gates that leads onto the Temple Mount. It was built by the ruler of Damascus, Tankiz, during the reign of Mamluk Sultan ibn Qalwun, as marked by an inscription over the door. Since this site is the closest a person can get to the Foundation Stone without setting foot on the mount itself, the gate was a popular place of prayer for Jews during the 19th century.

Moroccans' Gate
Bab al-Maghribah in the western wall allows non-Muslims to enter the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) area via a wooden ramp. To the right is al-Buraq mosque and to the left is Madrassah al-Fakhar. It was installed in the 12th century in the Western Wall above Barclay's Gate, at the level of the Temple Mount esplanade, and named after the residents of the adjacent neighborhood. At some stage, probably in the 12th century and maybe even later, this gate called Bab al-Magharbeh was installed in the Western Wall above Barclay's Gate, at the level of the Temple Mount esplanade.

Ablution Gate
The view of the Bab al-Mutahara from inside the Haram al-Sharif, it is situated a few meters to the south of Bab ul-Qattanin. (Arabic: Bab al-Matharah باب المطهرة‎), is located on the western flank. This Ayubbid era gate is located in the western corridor of al-Aqsa Mosque near the Cotton Merchants’ Gate which is close to the Dome of the Rock. It is the only gate of al-Aqsa that does not lead to one of the Old City’s quarters, but to an ablution built by the Ayoubi Sultan al-Adel abu Bakr Ayoub instead. The gate and the ablution were last renovated in 1267 CE (666 Hj.).

Barclay's Gate
The reverse L-shaped feature [identify] in the left wall is the Barclay's lintel. Barclay's Gate lies under the Moroccans' Gate and is one of the Temple Mount's original gates. Its Arabic name is Bab an-Nabi, "Gate of the Prophet [Muhammad]" - not to be confused with the Triple Gate, which has the same Arabic name. The gate entrance was almost 27 feet high. The building to the right was attached to the Western Wall and was originally part of a ramp that led to the Mugrabi Gate, which was above Barclay's Gate.

Chain Gate
Chain Gate, (Arabic: باب السلسلة‎, Bab as-Silsileh; Hebrew: Shaar HaShalshelet‎), located on the western flank, it may have been the location of the Coponius Gate which existed during the Second Temple period. It was built during the Ayoubi era is one of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s main entrances; it is located in the southern part of Al-Aqsa’s western wall. The gate is relatively high and topped with ornamented bricks. The Ayoubis also renovated it in 1200 CE (600 Hj.). It has a double wooden door with a small opening that allows a single person to pass through when the double door is closed.

Iron Gate
Bab ul-Hadid (iron gate) as seen from inside the Haram al-Sharif, it is located directly underneath the building known as Madarasa al-Uthmani. (Arabic: Bab al-Hadid‎, Hebrew: Shaar Barzel‎) is located on the western side, near the Little Western Wall. It is located in the western corridor of AlAqsa Mosque between the Inspector’s Gate and the Cotton Merchants’ Gate; it was last renovated in 1354-1357 CE (755-758 Hj.). It is also called Aragun’s Gate after its renovator and founder of the Araguniyah School Prince Aragun AlKamili.

Gate of Ghawanima
Gate of Bani Ghanim, as seen from within the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). (Arabic: Bab al-Ghawanima‎), is located on the north-western corner. It was last renovated in 1308 CE (707 Hj.). It is a relatively small gate named after the Old City’s Bani Ghanim Quarter to which it leads. In the past, the Gate was called Al-Khalil (Hebron) Gate after Prophet Ibrahim Al-Khalil (PBUH). The Islamic Waqf Directorate has renovated this gate after an Israeli extremist burnt it in 1998.


al-Fakhariyya Minaret
al-Fakhariyya minaret is located on the sout-west corner of Masjid il-Aqsa. It was built under the supervision of Sharif al-Din Abd al-Rahman on the orders of Mamluk sulkat Lajin, and was named after Fakhar al-Din al-Khalili father of building supervisor. It is built in traditional Syrian style. At 23-meters high it is the shortest minaret inside Masjid al-Aqsa and stands without any foundations.

al-Ghawanima Minaret
al-Ghawanima minaret is the second of minarets and is located on the north-western corner of the noble sanctuary in 1297-98. It is the tallest minaret of Haram al-Sharif and was built by architecht named Qazi Sharaf al-Din al Khalili on the orders of Sultan Lajin. The minaret is almost completely made of stone except the wooden canopy over Muazzin's balcony. Because of its firm structure, the Ghawanima minaret has been nearly untouched by earthquakes.

Chain Gate Minaret
Bab al-Silsila minaret, (The Chain Gate Minaret) is located directly above the Gate of the Chain, thus named as such. Tanzik, the Mamluk Governor of Syria ordered the construction, probably replacing an earlier Umayyad built minaret. This reconstruction took place, as mentioned in the inscriptions, in the days of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad, apparently by Amir Tankiz, governor of Syria, when he built the madrasa named al-Tankiziyya.


al-Buraq Mosque, Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount)

al-Buraq Mosque
This small structure, on the south-west corner of the al-Aqsa compound is believed to be the place where Muhammad tied the Buraq, the winged riding animal upon which he rode during the Night of Ascension, and an iron ring attached to the wall is shown to visitors as the exact place. It is in the passage that once led to Barclay's Gate, which is at the south end of the Western Wall and has been sealed for many centuries.

circa 1100 BCE

Islamic Museum
The facade of the Islamic Museum's building and the remains of Corinthian column capitals in the courtyard. On display are exhibits from ten periods of Islamic history encompassing several Muslim regions. The museum is located adjacent to al-Aqsa Mosque. The Islamic Museum was established in 1923 CE by the Supreme Islamic Council. It is considered to be the first museum founded in Palestine. The museum has two halls that form a right angle. The western hall was a mosque known as The Moroccans Mosque, while the southern hall is part of the Women’s Mosque.


Madrassah al-Ashraf
Madrasah al-Ashrafiyya is identified by its protruding volume into the Haram. Sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf Qaytbay (d. 1496 CE) founded al-Ashrafiyya on the same site. The builders and craftsmen, as well as the Coptic architect of al-Ashrafiyya, were all sent from Cairo to complete the building. The school consists of a two-storey building, and has a beautiful entrance decorated with white and red bricks. It also has a mosque that was once used by the followers of the Hanbali principle. There are two graves inside its mosque; one of them is thought to be Sheikh Al-Khalil’si tomb.

Madrassah al-Fakhariyya
It is an annex building served an assembly hall for the Fakhr al-Din Mohammad School, a madrasa built by al-Mansur Qalawun in 1282 CE, during the Mamluk era. Judge Fakhr Ad-Din Mohammad bin Fadl Allah built this school in 1329-1330 CE (730 Hj.). It was originally built as an Islamic religious school, but it was later turned into a Sufi lodge. Israeli forces have demolished parts of the school, leaving only three rooms and a small mosque out of its original building. The school’s mosque structure is simple; it is an oblong room which is based on three stone pillars and topped with three magnificent domes that were added to the building during the Ottoman era. The mosque also has a beautiful niche built with red bricks pointing towards the Qibla.


Western Colonnade
The western colonnade as seen from Bab al-Maghribah, standing right in front of al-Buraq mosque. To the right in the background the Minarah Bab us-Silsilah above Bab us-Silsilah.

Maghrabi Bridge
The Mughrabi Bridge is a wooden bridge connecting the Western Wall plaza with the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Mughrabi gate is the only gate to the Temple Mount that the Waqf allows non-Muslims to use for visiting the Temple Mount complex.

Notable Burials
Immediately next to the Bab al-Qattanin lie the graves of important Palestinian figures, including 'Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini, Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini, Faisal Husseini, the Emir Mohamed Ali, King Hussein of Hejaz

See Also


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