Days out in Jerusalem

Kotel Tunnels

If you’re visiting Jerusalem, you may be familiar with the iconic Kotel, or the Western Wall. But there is something more to it than what meets the eye. While the Kotel or Western Wall is impressive, its greatness is truly discovered when you go under it. Yes, under it — descend under the walls to discover the tunnels.

The Kotel Tunnels are without a doubt one of the most incredible places in Jerusalem. Simply amazing excavations that allow you to walk along the length of the Western Wall (Kotel), peer down into previous historical times and stand opposite the Holy of Holies of the Temple (bring a prayer with you).

three women facing an arched stone wall
Women praying in the tunnel at the closest physical point to the Holy of Holies

The tunnels run along about 488 meters of the Kotel (Western Wall). It gives visitors the idea of the challenge that stood before Herod the Great during the biggest and the most ambitious of his building projects, which was the expansion of the Temple Mount.

One such example is a monolithic stone — known as the Western Stone — which measure 14 meters long and weighs about 600 pounds! (Watch the video below for more description of it).

About the Kotel Tunnel Tour

The Kotel Tunnel walk is simultaneously incredibly spiritual and fascinating for its historical perspective.

The Kotel Tunnel tour starts off with an explanation of the topology of Temple Mount, passes through some prayer areas and includes a short film on ancient construction in the Kotel context. There is a high tech model that whines, groans and shows how the area developed over the generations. In several places you walk over plate glass that give insights into even lower levels of history. Check out where ancient artisans went on strike when the patron died! You can see a stone that is so large and weighs so much  that nobody is really sure how they managed to get it there.

The tour finishes by an ancient underground water cistern and then you double back on yourself towards the entrance.

Photography is tough in the lighting conditions, but the results can be very rewarding.

A narrow stone passageway

The passageway is narrow (like the one pictured above) and it can be quite a tough walk for the infirm and absolutely no strollers are allowed.

Booking the Kotel Tunnel Tour

Due to the physical limitations this is not a site that you can just show up at – you must book the Kotel Tunnel tour in advance (and during peak seasons then do it as soon as you know what dates you will be in Jerusalem.)

See the Kotel Tunnel website and you can book at the Kotel Tunnel bookings (the website is in Hebrew for English tours!!) In Israel you can call *5958

Getting to the Kotel Tunnels

On the elevated platform to the left of the Kotel Plaza (when facing the Kotel itself.)

In the area of the Kotel Tunnels

You are at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem and all the sites are within walking distance. Our advice is to book the tour and then plan the rest of the day around the slot that you get.

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