I won't be able to do this justice, but here it goes...
The famous Western Wall that I've shown pictures of several times is a part of the retaining wall for the Temple Mount that Herod built. But it's only a very, very small portion of it. I'm talkin' teeny tiny. Most of the wall is hidden underground and behind private residences.
So in recent years, there has been a lot of excavating to reveal more of the wall and some of the things surrounding it. Just one year ago they found an ancient mikvah (ritual bath) that dates back to Christ's time. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture of it because you can only see it from a distance through a window in the ground. And they are discovering new things all the time.
You can take a tour underground to see much, much more of the wall. First, you see a series of arches that held up a bridge 2000 years ago. The bridge led right up to one of the entrances to the Temple Mount. These pictures don't even begin to show how interesting and beautiful they are....
Here we are walking along side the wall. The stones on this level were ENORMOUS, usually weighing somewhere between two and eight tons each. There is even one that is 42 feet long and weighs 570 tons, if you can wrap your mind around that. When the tour guide told us that, she said, "Now I'm sure your next question will be how they got it here. The answer is, we don't know."
A model of what the Temple Mount would have looked like 2000 years ago. The tall white part in the middle would have housed the Holy of Holies, and that white structure would have been TWICE the height of the structure that currently stands in that same place now, the Dome of the Rock. The little yellow box that I drew in shows the small portion of the wall that we can see today.
A part of the wall that is the closest that women can currently get to where the Holy of Holies was (aside from being up on the Temple Mount itself, and I'm not sure they're even allowed to go there - they certainly would not be allowed to pray there).
At the very end of the wall they have uncovered the ground that would have existed 2000 years ago. Scholars disagree on what this area would have been used for, but many believe it would have been a market place.
Also at the end of the wall we walked through a HUGE ancient aqueduct. It was impressive. Our tour guide said that we don't even know how old it is. Then at the end of the aqueduct you come to the moat that Herod built around one of the northern corners of the Temple Mount. We were able to see a portion of the moat, but I didn't get any good pictures of it.
The Tunnel Tour was pretty amazing, and it was something I hadn't gotten around to doing before Mom and Becky came. We did this on their last day here. Their entire stay was so fun for us. I'm so grateful that I got to show them the sites here, and also what our day to day life is like.
Hopefully we'll be back someday and we can show more of our family members around the Holy Land!