Many crews filming at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem also choose to film at the remarkable Western Wall Tunnels, whose entrance is located on the Western side of the Western Wall plaza. This labyrinth of tunnels, arches and passageways remained untouched for many centuries, hidden underneath and alongside the majestic Temple Mount.
When King Herod rebuilt the temple, the Temple Mount was actually a hill. By filling the surrounding slopes, he created a large platform on which the temple stood. The tunnels are under the vaults and serve as the retaining walls of the temple platform today. The Temple Mount, which now houses the famous Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, is a sacred site to both Jews and Muslims and is one of the most emotionally charged locations in the Middle Eastern conflict.
After the six day war and the regain of Jerusalem, massive excavations began, which led to the discovery of the tunnel system. The tunnels were made accessible to the public in the 1980s. Much controversy and bloody riots surrounded the opening of a special exit on to the Via Dolorosa in 1996, when Muslims feared the new exit could threaten the stability of Al-Haram al-Sharif, as the Temple Mount is known in Arabic.
The Western Wall tunnel system displays a prime time of architecture and defense and water tunnel construction in ancient Jerusalem. Archaeologists have discovered many findings from the Herodian period; as well as various structures dating to the Ayyubid, Mamluke and Hasmonean period which were aimed to support buildings within the vicinity of the Temple Mount. Crews filming in the Western Wall Tunnel system can get great footage of the remarkable Wilson’s Arch and Warren’s Gate, Hasmonean water cisterns and the Struthion Pool which dates back to King Herod’s time. Filming with extra light gear is recommended, as the tunnels themselves provide just little artificial light along the passageways. Appointments for filming must be made well in advance and before or after the opening hours of the tunnel, in order not to disturb the stream of visitors from all over the world.