The Little Western Wall (or HaKotel HaKatan, or the Small Western Wall) is the continuation of the larger, and better-known Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Western Wall formed part of the retaining walls that encased Temple Mount where the Second Temple (516 BC-70 AD) once stood. The retaining walls were built by King Herod in the 1st-century AD in his efforts to glorify the holy site.
Originally the Western Wall would have stretched for about 0.5km (1640ft). For a long time, it was believed that only the large section of the Western Wall was the only surviving section of the Temple. But excavation revealed that the western retaining wall continued beneath ground level where it had been buried and built over and around during the following centuries.
The Little Kotel is part of the Western Wall that lay hidden for all those years. It is in close proximity to what would have been the holy inner sanctum of the Temple where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and where God’s presence dwelled. Its proximity to the Holy of Holies makes it extremely important to religious Jews.
Visiting the Little Western Wall
Unlike the larger Western Wall which faces onto the expansive Western Wall Plaza, HaKotel HaKatan can only be accessed by a narrow passage. It is not covered by other structures and stands in the open air, exposed. It is about 3-meters wide and not as high as the larger Western Wall.
The area alongside the Little Western Wall is in the courtyard of Ribat Kurd, a 13th-century Muslim hospice. It is located about 200m south of the Western Wall Plaza, close to the Iron Gate (Sha’ar HaBarzel). The wall itself has been built and rebuilt several times so that only the lower two rows of stone are from the original Second Temple period.
As the Little Western Wall is in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, visits by Jews wishing to pray at the site are limited. Over the years there have been clashes between Jews coming to pray at the Little Kotel, and resident Muslims. Due to the sensitive nature of the site, visits are limited. To visit the site please book a Jerusalem Classical Private Tour.