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A Special Peek At the Kotel Tunnels

Photo essay takes a look at the ancient architecture under Jerusalem's Western Wall.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 2/9/2014, 11:01 PM

Over five hundred ton stone in Kotel tunnel
Over five hundred ton stone in Kotel tunnel
Western Wall Heritage Foundation

A unique set of pictures from the Kotel (Western Wall) tunnels arrived at Arutz Sheva courtesy of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, and show the ancient architecture of the holy site.

The first picture shows a stone vaulted arch, part of a decorative structure supporting a large stone bridge to the Western Wall. This bridge, which no longer exists, connected the upper city (the current Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City) and the Temple Mount in the days of the Second Temple (516 BCE to 70 CE).

The "crossed" hall consists of 4 stone decorations, and served as the foundation to a Muslim building that was located above it in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods (1247 CE to 1920 CE).

The third photo gives a look down the tunnels, and shows hidden underground sections of the Western Wall only visible in the Kotel tunnels.

"The Large Stone" in the Western Wall is one of the heaviest objects ever lifted without powered machinery, and one of the largest stones ever used in construction.

It is estimated to weigh 570 tons, or 1.14 million pounds (517,095 kilograms); it is 45 feet (13.6 meters) long, and 9.8 feet (3 meters) tall.

The last picture shows the remnants of an ancient market street that was located at the foot of the Western Wall in the Second Temple Period. At this section construction of the market street was apparently interrupted due to the sudden death of King Herod.

The Kotel tunnels are open to visitors, and tours can be booked online.