The level of the land at haKotel haKatan is higher here, so only two of the original stone courses are visible above ground. The two lines of stones were apparently rebuilt on top of the Herodian courses during the Muslim Period (638-1009 CE). The wall itself dates from the Second Temple period, 516 BCE-70 CE.
I came upon it quite by chance last June while wandering in the labyrinth of narrow streets in the Muslim Quarter. Sometimes I like to get lost in the Old City and just follow my camera. Iron Gate Street ended at, yes, the Iron Gate and I was excited to see the golden Dome of the Rock mosque through the open gate. A tantalizing scene. The Haram es-Sharif, as Muslims call the Temple Mount, has been rather off-limits for a long time. As I got closer to take a photo, the young soldier, a handsome Ethiopian Jew, posted at the Iron Gate called me back and explained that non-Muslims were only allowed in at certain hours of the day, not now. Actually, I told him, I had seen a very small arrow to the Kotel haKatan several blocks away. Where is it? He pointed to an unmarked archway across the little street.
Not a soul was next to the ancient wall. Only a few kvittels, notes to God, had been left in the cracks. The stones were rougher than the ones at the big Kotel, which have been rubbed smooth by millions of pilgrim hands.
Quite awesome to be alone in such a special place, and for the first time.
Some mysterious support was ensuring the arches of the old houses would not collapse. I was hoping it was not connected to some archaeological activity below.
The Kotel Katan is much closer to the site of the possible location of the Holy of Holies than the larger Western Wall, so some religious Jews would be happy to turn it into a prayer site. But it is owned by the Muslim Waqf and it is the only passage for the Arab residents of the Rabat el Kurd courtyard to enter their homes, which surround the Kotel Katan.
This little boy suddenly came running in, singing. He was quite surprised to see me and became silent. I said in my meagre Arabic, "Hey, that's pretty. Please, keep singing."
He did . . . and disappeared up the stairs.