1. When the Roman Emperor Titus pillaged the Holiest of Holies in 70 C.E. and had the Second Temple burnt to the ground, he gave instructions for his legions to leave part of the outer, western retaining wall intact. This was to demonstrate to posterity not only how well fortified the city of Jerusalem was, but to show the Jews, or any other citizens who thought they could challenge the Emperor's customs and laws, just how intrepid and formidable Rome's armies were.
2. As it's seen today, the Western Wall, as it's come to be called, stretches over 60 feet in the air, though technically it's much taller as it also extends another 40 feet down into the earth below.
3. Most of the wall is actually obscured by adjoining buildings, but the entire length of what the Romans left for posterity is actually over five football fields long. One reason the remnant has lasted as long as it has, withstanding repeated earthquakes over the centuries, is because some of the lower stones underground are over 40 feet wide and weigh over 100 tons.
4. In Hebrew, the Western Wall is called the Kotel Ma'aravi, literally "the wall west." Arabs who governed the city for hundreds of years often heard Jews crying as they recited prayers at the Kotel and therefore named it El-Mabka, or "the Place of Weeping." When the British took Jerusalem from the Turks in 1917, they anglicized El-Mabka into "The Wailing Wall," another term you'll often hear describing the Western Wall.
5. There's a really good live webcam (not that start/freeze stuff you're used to) right over here. And you can send a note to the wall! This is something people often do when they visit "“ a private prayer, something for a loved one departed, or for someone who couldn't make the trip. Now, thanks to technology, you can do it online. Check it.
5 Things You Need to know about the Western Wall in Jerusalem
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February 02, 2008 - 11:04am