One of the most famous sites in Jerusalem and most definitely the holiest site in the world of the Jewish people, the Western Wall (also referred as the Kotel or the Wailing Wall) is one of the main cornerstones of the whole religion of Judaism.
The Western Wall is ancient remains of the Temple in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Old City. It is the Western side of the wall that used to surround the Temple. The history of the Temple dates back to year 1004 B.C. when King David started to rule over Jerusalem and started to gather the materials for the construction of the Temple. However, it was built only later by his son Solomon. All the Judean tribes participated in the construction work and it was finished within eight years. When Israel was conquered by the Babylonians in year 586 B.C., the terrible destiny struck the Judean holy site as the King Nebuchadnezzar ordered to destroy it. The Temple was built again half century later and it was restored and upgraded by the Herod the Great on year 20 B.C. However, this building was too not to remain forever - it was burnt down by the Romans on year 70 A.D. Now, all that’s left is the Kotel - a 62 feet high wall that symbolizes the rich past and suffering of the Jewish people.
Throughout its history, the Western Wall has been of a high importance for the Jewish people that did and still do pilgrimages to the site to pray and mourn the horrible destiny of their Temple as well as to leave the notes to the God within the cracks of the wall. Thousands of people visit the Temple for the religious purposes. That is why the attitude of the people that visit the Wall is more than humble - people deeply focused on their prayers or weeping about the past of their nation or their personal sins is a common site at the Western Wall. When leaving the site, a normal practice is to slowly step back while being faced to the Wall.
As unusual as it may seem, the Western Wall is open to the public. However, one should be aware of the religious restrictions on the site. Women and men are allowed to approach the Kotel from different sides. Women are praying on the right side, whereas men - on the left one. Visitors of the site should also pay attention to their clothing. In order to respect the importance of the site, men are asked to wear skullcaps, while women should have their shoulders covered.
The Western Wall is open 24/7 all year long and it is the most interesting site to visit in Jerusalem on Saturdays and on holidays, when Jewish men are dancing and celebrating by the Wall. It is pretty clear that it is a very good idea to visit the Western Wall while visiting Jerusalem no matter how much time you are planning to stay.