The Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City is a raised stone plateau that’s home to some of the most significant religious structures in the world, including the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque, and the Western Wall. The Temple Mount covers a 35-acre area known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and is considered to be a sacred place in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
While East Jerusalem is controlled by Israel, the Temple Mount is controlled by the Islamic Trust, making the area a very contested location. The compound is open to anyone who wishes to enter, and can be entered near the gate near the Western Wall. Visitors can admire the exteriors of the Dome of The Rock, Al Aqsa Mosque, and other sights.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Non-Muslim visitors are allowed to enter outside of Muslim prayer times.
- The Temple Mount is closed on all major religious holidays and on days deemed “sensitive” by authorities.
- Visitors are expected to dress appropriately with covered arms and legs.
- Comfortable walking shoes are recommended as there are many steps and hills to climb.
- Tours can help visitors visit religious sites in East Jerusalem in a respectful, culturally sensitive way.
How to Get There
The Temple Mount is in Jerusalem’s Old City, and visitors can gain entrance through the Mughrabi gate near the Western Wall. Private cars are not allowed inside the Old City during the day, but there are a number of public parking lots outside the various entry gates. Taxis are relatively easy to find near Jaffa gate and can take passengers inside. Public busses and the light rail stop within a 10 minute walk from the Temple Mount, and there’s also a free shuttle to the Old City every 20 minutes from The First Station in Jerusalem.
When to Get There
Sundays can be especially busy, but arriving in the early morning as soon as it opens and 7:30 (8:30 in the winter) is your best bet for avoiding crowds. Allow at least an hour to see the site, and be prepared to wait in long lines to enter.
The Western Wall
Part of an ancient, limestone retaining wall along the western side of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall is one of the most famous landmarks in Jerusalem. (It’s also known as the Wailing Wall; Kotel in Judaism; and the Buraq Wall in Islam.) For Jews, the wall is considered the holiest prayer site; for Muslims, it’s believed to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.