The Western Wall Tunnels are a man-made set of tunnels dug in the 1980’s along the Western wall, from the public praying plaza, and up to its northern end. The purpose of the tunneling was to research the Western Wall and antiquities related to it. In the excavations various finds were made, attesting to the rich history of this part of Jerusalem in ancient times.
The Western Wall Tunnels Causing Riots
Although the tunnels were made for research purposes, the Palestinians claimed that they were part of a “Zionistic plan to undermine the foundation of the Dome of the Rock” and so clear the way for building a Jewish Temple. In reality the tunnels only follow the line of the Western Wall. They do NOT go under it in any place. Nevertheless, they have been politicized over the years, and in 1996, when Israel installed an exit at the northern end of the tunnel, the Palestinians rioted for three days. In retrospect these events only gave the tunnels more publicity and made them a popular tourist attraction.
Joining a Tour of the Western Wall Tunnels
The Western Wall Tunnels are managed by the Western Wall Heritage foundation. Touring them can only be done by joining a group and the tour is led by representatives of the heritage foundation. The Tour takes more then an hour, and ends at the Muslim Quarter, near the first stations of the “Stations of the Cross” (Via Dolorosa).
The Western Wall Tunnels tour can be a great activity combined in a day tour of Jerusalem.