| Five men in "Solomon's Quarry," circa 1910. Another picture|
of the group can be found here
From the cave's entrance to the end is 300 meters; its width is 100 meters, and its height in some parts is 15 meters tall. The total size is estimated to be five acres.
|Solomon's Quarry tourists (circa 1910)|
According to legend, King Solomon may have taken blocks from the cave to build the First Temple (circa 950 BCE). While archaeologists are sceptical, there is little doubt that King Herod (circa 50 BCE) quarried stone for building his massive expansion of the Second Temple, including what we call today the Western Wall.
|"Hanging pillar" in Solomon's|
Quarry (circa 1910)
Another legend claims that King Zedekiah of Judah (circa 586 BCE) fled from the Babylonian conquerors through the cave. Talmudic literature dating back to the 2nd - 3rd century CE refers to Zedekiah's Cave.
The quarry was used throughout the Middle Ages, but it was sealed in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent to prevent enemy infiltration under the Old City.
Open & Shut, Open & Shut...
The cave remained sealed and undiscovered until 1854 when, according to another legend, missionary Dr. J. T. Barclay was walking his dog outside of Damascus Gate. The dog ran down a hole that had been opened after heavy rains. Barclay followed him in and discovered the massive cavern.
|Entrance to Solomon's Quarry|
|The Quarry as a bomb shelter (1940s)|
In 1967, after the reunification of Jerusalem, Israel reopened the cavern.
Read this excellent description of the cave written by Thomas Friedman when he was serving as The New York Times' Jerusalem bureau chief in 1985.