For thousands of years, Jews in all parts of the world have built their synagogues facing toward the ancient Wall on the western side of the Temple Mount.
Although it is the last remnant of the temple area that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, actually the wall is a retaining wall separating the temple platform built by Herod from the city of Jerusalem to the west. It became the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national consciousness and tradition because of its proximity to the Holy of Holies in the Temple. As a place of prayer and mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel’s exile, along with the memory of Israel’s former glory and the hope for its restoration, it became popularly known as the “Wailing Wall”.
Jews have always prayed in the direction of the Temple, as Solomon prayed at the dedication of the First Temple (2 Chronicles 6). “When they sin against You…… and You deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were taken captive, and repent…… and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer….. and forgive Your people.” (36-39)
Although the Temple area has always been special to the Jews, interest in the Western Wall seems to date back to the time of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who is reputed to have recovered the wall from underneath the dung heap which was hiding it, and granted permission to the Jews to hold prayers there.
No Muslim sources about Jerusalem bear any evidence of Arab interest in the Western Wall. The Temple area became Muslim religious property at the end of 12th century, and it is still under Muslim jurisdiction.