The Western Wall (Hebrew: הכותל המערבי, translit.: HaKotel HaMa´aravi), or simply The Kotel, is a retaining wall in Jerusalem that dates from the time of the Jewish Second Temple (515 BCE - 70 CE). It is sometimes referred to by gentiles as the Wailing Wall (Arabic: il-Mabka), the term that may be considered derogatory, as it implies the image of Jews wailing and moaning over the hardships they have endured throughout Jewish history. In Islam it is known as al-Buraq ("the Bright One" - the name of the white horse upon which Muslims believe Muhammad to have performed his nocturnal journey). The Western Wall is part of the larger religious site in the Old City of Jerusalem called Har ha-Bayit (the Temple Mount) to Jews and some Christians, or Al-Haram al-Qudsi al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) to Arabs and Muslims.
The Temple in Jerusalem was the most sacred building in Judaism. Herod the Great built vast retaining walls around Mount Moriah, expanding the small, quasi-natural plateau on which the First and Second Temples stood into the wide open spaces of the Temple Mount seen today.
In recent centuries, Jews were allowed little or no access to the site, such as when Turkey (the Ottoman Empire) ruled over it for 400 years (1515-1917), followed by the British Mandate of Palestine (1917-1948) and the Jordanian rule of Jerusalem (1948-1967). Only when the Israel Defense Forces won a victory in the 1967 Six Day War were Jews finally able to gain free access to the site.
Taken from Wikipedia.org