This and That

Random bits of my life

Western Wall Tunnels

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 30, 2011

Aqueduct, Western Wall Tunnels

This morning a group of us from work went on a tour of the Western Wall tunnels as part of a project celebration. The tunnel network runs along the full length of the western side of the Temple Mount (Har haBayit), close to half a kilometer. The virtual tour on the Kotel Web site has a virtual tour with a map and video clips (runs in Internet Explorer only). Wikipedia has a short article on the history of the excavation. The photo above was taken near the far end of the tunnel, in the Herodian aqueduct.

The photo below shows our group listening to a guide describing the stones. They are photographed in front of the largest stone (just behind their heads), also called the Western Stone: “Weighing 517 tonnes (570), it is one of the largest building blocks in the world. The stone is 13.6 meters (44.6 feet) long, 3 metres (9.8 feet) high and has an estimated width of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet).” It is also described as one of the heaviest objects ever lifted by human beings without the aid of powered machinery.

You can see the incised edges of the ashlar masonry, beautifully fitted together without mortar. It’s really impressive!

Largest Stone, Western Wall Tunnels

A mechanized model of the Temple Mount was used to show how the terrain changed over the years as the area around the portico was filled in and built up during the medieval period.

Model of Temple Mount, Western Wall Tunnels

Two teenage girls pray on the women’s side of Wilson’s Arch.

Wilson's Arch, Western Wall Tunnels

A very long tunnel…. It runs along the western wall, from the Great Hall to the Herodian street.

Long Tunnel, Western Wall Tunnels

The next photo shows the vaulted ceiling over the Herodian street. There are a couple columns in the wall, but it was too small and dark to get a really good photo of the whole room without a wide angle lens, which I hadn’t brought.

Ceiling over Herodion Street, Western Wall Tunnels

Another photo of the aqueduct, this time with some of group for scale.

Aqueduct, Western Wall Tunnels

The aqueduct leads to the Struthion (from the Greek word for sparrow) pool, a water reservoir built by Herod the Great in the first century BCE.

Strouthion Pool, Western Wall Tunnels

Strouthion Pool, Western Wall Tunnels

Strouthion Pool, Western Wall Tunnels

6 Responses to “Western Wall Tunnels”

  1. fabulous pics and so interesting. thanks for all you share.

  2. I have been in the tunnels twice, it is breathtaking! Your photography is wonderful!

  3. Debbie said

    These are wonderful photos, Avital. So nice that coworkers organize a ‘class’ tiyul! I was there years ago, not long after they were opened to the public and don’t really remember much of it. Your excellent photos do bring back memories. I quickly skimmed the wikipedia article, but didn’t come across the year that they opened. Do you know when that was?

  4. pam said

    I really, really, really wish I could have joined you on this tour. Thank you, thank you for sharing a part of your experience here. You photos are fantastic and I am grateful to be able to share at least this much of your experience.

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