The image of the Western Wall, whether seen through photography or up close and in person, is fairly familiar throughout the world. When examined closely, however, its stones reveal far more history than first meets the eye.
The wall is made up of various levels, each built and added on during different periods of history. This is a unique case in which, should the old proverb “If walls could talk” be applied, we would find quite a few different stories being told.
The first, of course, is the grandest. The lower levels of the wall consist of enormous stones whose unique masonry boasts of their having been placed there during the time of the Second Temple renovations, which began around the year 30 BCE under the rule of Herod the Great. The beauty and intricacy of the specific design used for the stones is seen replicated only in three other locations in Israel: Caesarea, Me’arat HaMachpela, and the Masada Fortress.
Above these enormous stones, the eye can visibly discern layers of smaller stones, restored by the Umayads sometime in the seventh century and then once more after an enormous earthquake in the year 1033 C.E.
Finally, at the very top, there are layers of very small, fairly uniform stones controversially attributed to restorations done by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1866.