Since 1844 billions of photos have been taken of Jerusalem. I have featured a few of the earlier ones on this blog in the past, here and here. Smithsonian Magazine has just published what are considered to be the earliest, taken in 1844 by French photographer Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, whose daguerreotypy techniques were learned from Louis Daguerre himself. Girault de Prangey toured the Middle East between 1841 and 1844, producing over 900 daguerreotypes of a variety of landscapes, buildings, and people. This shot of the Western Wall (Kotel), the holiest spot in Judaism, lying in ruins and disrepair, is one of the more interesting. Jerusalem was under Ottoman/Turkish rule when these photos were taken. The Old City had a majority Jewish population at that time with Arabs a minority, which makes the modern talk of “Arab East Jerusalem” a historical anomaly. Jews were allowed to pray at the Wall under certain restrictions but access and attempts to improve the site were often rebuffed and fraught with difficulty, see here.
You can read the complete article by Rose Eveleth and view four other blurry Jerusalem shots here.
The Western Wall today looks far different today. Since 1967 when Israelis liberated the city from Jordanian occupation–that had included the expulsion of all Jews from the city and destroying the historic Jewish Quarter–free access to all holy places by people of any faith or no faith was guaranteed by the Israeli government–other than the Temple Mount that is controlled by the dictatorial hand of the Muslim Waqf.