The History and the Spectacular in the Underground World of the Western Wall Tunnels
The entrance to the tunnels is on the northern side of the Western Wall plaza, a few meters away from the Western Wall. Upon entering, visitors walk through a series of rooms moving eastward until they reach the Western Wall. The rooms encountered along the passageway are the remains of a Medieval church, a bridge, luxury rooms from the Second Temple era, residential homes, ancient cisterns, a quarry, a Hasmonean-era aqueduct, and many more archeological discoveries.
Visitors can participate in a fascinating tour that takes you through the tiers of the Western Wall that reveal their secrets in the thick depths of the earth and tell the story of ancient Jerusalem. The impressive Tunnels tour begins at the Western Wall plaza and is approximately 75 minutes long. Tours take place in English, too. The Western Wall Tunnels run along the 485-meter length of the Wall and offer a glimpse of the incredible engineering challenges faced by Herod the Great as he embarked on his undertaking to expand the Temple Mount.
The Tunnels are, in fact, an underground system that constitutes a continuous chain of history, from the Hasmoneans until today. They were created through a large number of arches, which were built side by side and supported by staircases connecting the city with the Temple Mount. In ancient times, the Tyropoeon Valley ran along the western side of the Temple Mount, separating the Herodian Quarter and the Temple. The need for a bridge above the valley led to the building of the arches. Today, these passageways support the streets, and the tunnels pass directly beneath the Muslim Quarter.
The tunnels were first discovered during a dig by British archeologists in the nineteenth century, however, the actual excavations took place after the Six-Day War under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Religion. Since the tunnels run along the Western side of the Temple Mount, the site of the Holy of Holies, they reach a point very close to the location of the drinking stone. There is a small synagogue at the site where religious Jews pray and read the Psalms.