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Around 19 BCE, as Herod (whose reign spanned from 37 to 4 BCE) was rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple, he doubled the size of the Temple Mount and created a large artificial platform.Around this platform he constructed four massive retaining walls.The Kotel (known as the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall, and the Wall of Tears) is the western retaining wall of Herod’s Temple Mount platform.

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Today, it is considered among the most holy and important sites of Judaism and visited annually by millions — religious and secular Jews as well as many non-Jews.

Sacred site or tourist site, it is probably the most famous retaining wall in (Jewish) history.

Parts of the other Herodian retaining walls are still visible today. The entire Western Wall is 1,601 feet long, not all of which is visible or accessible.

The best-known section of the Kotel is at the prayer plaza, and it measures 187 feet in length.

The present day plaza was constructed in the wake of the Six-Day War, after the razing of the Mughrabi Quarter — an Arab neighborhood that had extended to within 11.8 feet of the Kotel making prayer there extremely difficult.

It is interesting to note that the Herodian expansion of the Temple Mount area and the construction of its retaining walls had also required the removal of nearby structures.

The present day plaza allows for thousands of visitors daily.

Archeological excavations led by Benjamin Mazar with the assistance of Meir Ben-Dov uncovered the first 262 feet of the Kotel after the Six-Day War; those excavations can be viewed today in the archaeological park on the southern end of the Kotel.

The remaining 1,050 feet continue underground beneath the streets and houses of the Old City of Jerusalem.

These sections of the Wall were uncovered during ongoing excavations of the subterranean Temple Mount passageways by Dan Bahat and others.

Another section of the Wall, approximately 95 feet, may be seen and visited in the Moslem Quarter, some 574 feet north of the prayer plaza.

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