When you visit Israel, one of the highlights of your trip will be a visit to the Western Wall. Standing along the expansive plaza beneath this wall that stretches 187 feet wide and 131 feet tall, it’s hard not to feel God’s presence as you make your way to touch and kiss this most holy of sites. When you arrive, you’ll see men and women from around the world stuffing hand-written prayers into the cracks and crevices of this 2,000-yeard-old remnant of the Second Temple. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Israelis and tourists visit here every day. It’s exciting to see soldiers coming to offer prayers before heading back to their bases or brides being photographed in front of the weathered limestone before walking down the aisle.
The Little Kotel; Photo courtesy Travelujah-Holy Land tours
And while it’s thrilling and exciting to watch the throngs of people who make a pilgrimage here, what if you wanted a more intimate experience? What if you wanted to enjoy a few private moments of reflection while the stones turned an indescribable shade of pink as the sun dipped below Jerusalem’s hills? Is such an experience possible? While most people don’t know this, the answer is “yes”!
The wall we know as the Kotel (the Western Wall) is only a portion of the original western wall that surrounded the Second Temple courtyard. The original wall was actually 488 feet long. Some of is buried below ground as successive civilizations built new structures on top of the old ones. But another section of the Western Wall still exists above ground, just a short distance north of today’s Western Wall Plaza. Because it is only 58 feet long, this small section has been dubbed “Kotel HaKatan” or, in English, “The Little Kotel”. But don’t confuse its smaller size with a smaller spiritual experience. Because it is located in a secluded courtyard, it offers a peaceful spot to contemplate the spirituality that only Jerusalem can offer. You’ll see that its cracks and crevices are also packed with the notes left by other visitors offering God their own individual prayers. But because many people don’t know about it, you can enjoy the solitude that this special site provides.
How Do I get there?
While not teeming with tourists, the Little Kotel is easy to get to. Here’s how:
· Standing on the Western Wall Plaza with the Western Wall on your right, you will see a large sign on a building that says Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh. Under that sign there is a passageway.
· Enter the passageway and pass security. Once you exit the passage way, you will be on El Wad (Ha Gai) street in the Muslim Quarter.
· Continue straight on El Wad (HaGai) street and turn right onto Shaar Habarzel ( Baab el Hadid Street) This street is the street after Shuk Mochrei HaKutna Street (The Cotton Sellers’ Street) which you will notice has lots of shops lining the street.
· Shaar HaBarzel Baab el Hadid Street is small and narrow, but don’t worry, you are in the right place. Walk a few steps, bare to your left and, in a few more steps, you will a sign for the Kotel Hakatan (The Little Kotel) on your left. Turn left and enter another world!
Keep checking the Travelujah-Holy Land Tours to learn about other off-the-beaten-path sites in Israel!