A visit to the Western Wall is an absolute must for a trip to Jerusalem. It’s the #1 tourist destination in Israel, and gets more visitors annually than the Eiffel Tower. The wall is the last remaining portion of the ancient Jewish Temple, and is extremely important in Judaism. It’s definitely worth a visit no matter your faith.
I visited Jerusalem in May and it was already sweltering hot (42 degrees celsius!). When I was walking around the Old City of Jerusalem on my first day, I had to keep my legs fully covered out of respect. In my lack of foresight, I didn’t pack any breezy maxi dresses and was stuck with a pair of skinny jeans as my last resort. After a day of enduring that heat, I knew that I needed to find a better solution for my visit to the Western Wall. I grabbed a mini dress and tied it up around my waist to fashion a maxi skirt – this was a much smarter idea. Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Jerusalem, make sure you pack some long dresses or even a scarf to tie around your waist. Men typically are encouraged to wear pants, or at least shorts that cover their knees. They’re also required to cover their heads at holy sites. Many sites will give out a kippah if you don’t have anything on hand.
When we approached the Western Wall, we had to pass through airport style security. There were also a few women whose job it was to ensure that everyone was dressed appropriately. They handed out shawls to some of the girls in my group who needed more coverage. The prayer area is split up into two sections – one for men and one for women. It’s very common for people to write notes or prayers and slip them into the cracks of the wall. Twice a year, the notes are collected and buried at the Mount of Olives. Tip: Make sure to come prepared with pen and paper if you want to participate in this tradition.
When you’re leaving the Western Wall, it’s important to back away from it and walk backwards for a few steps. Turning your back to the wall is considered disrespectful. I was unaware of this during my visit, but was quickly corrected when it was time to head out. I didn’t take any photos of The Western Wall out of respect for all the people in prayer.
Let me know in the comments if you want to hear more about my trip to Israel! What else is on your Israel bucket list?