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Last relic of the western defense wall of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is holy to Jews, who have prayed and wept over its stones since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. almost continuously, except during periods when this was prohibited on pain of death. Since the fall of the Old City of Jerusalem to the Arab forces of Jordan in 1948, it had been inaccessible to Jews. On June 7, 1967, during the Six-Day War, the Israeli Army recaptured the Old City of Jerusalem, and since then Jews have had free access to the Wall. Since then, it has been officially referred to as the Western Wall, or in Hebrew, Kotel Ma’aravi. Shortly after the area was liberated, the Government of Israel started extensive archaeological excavations in the vicinity of the Wall. The Wall is about 54 feet high and 85 feet long, and has about 24 layers of immense uncut gray stones. This section of the wall belongs to the Second Temple, however, buried beneath the surface are almost as many layers of stones which are the remains of the First Temple. Prayers are recited at the Wall day and night, but pilgrimages usually take place on Tisha B’av, the anniversary of the razing of the temple.

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