There are actually not that many places where one can say with certainty ‘I’m walking where Jesus and Paul once walked’, but the steps leading up into the Temple is one of those places. Here’s Leen Ritmeyer’s reconstruction of what it looked like in Jesus and Paul’s day…. The area I’m referring to is in the bottom left of that picture, the steps leading up to the entrance way into the Temple Mount. Nearby were mikvehs, ceremonial purity baths such as this one….
Most folk do not realize that the Western or Wailing Wall was not an original part of the Temple itself, it was a retaining wall, part of the platform on which the Temple of Herod was built. Nothing remains of the latter.
If you notice the smoother stones with what looks like a border, these are original Herodian stones and the process by which these stones were laid is quite impressive. The stones are slightly curved, so sand would be placed on the top of the stone below and also lead to soften the blow of the lowering of the very heavy limestone block. they would blow the sand out, and the lead would be squashed. Notice they used no mortar of any sort.
You will have noticed the prayers in the wall, and the plants growing out of it. This locale is as close as Jews can come to the spot where the temple once was. They do not go up on top which is Muslim territory with two mosques built, including the Al Aksa mosque….
Here below is a shot of the pinnacle of the temple, the near corner, mentioned in the Gospels, and in the distance you see the Jewish graves on the Mt. of Olives. Ultra Orthodox Jews wish to be buried there so they can be first up from the dead when the Messiah comes across the hill. I’m referring to these sorts of folks….
Sadly, there are all sorts of security measures around this site which is sacred to all three monotheistic religions…. It was very very hot the day we were there, and surprisingly, there were only a few people at the wall, so I got some good shots of it, up close.