(Cover photo credit: idobi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
The Dome of the Rock is perhaps Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark.
Here you will find everything you need to know before visiting this holy Muslim site!
- What is the Dome of the Rock?
- Why is the Dome of the Rock important?
- Where is the Dome of the Rock located?
- What should I know before visiting the Dome of the Rock?
What is Dome of the Rock?
The Dome of the Rock (“Qubbat al-Sakhrah” in Arabic) is a magnificent Islamic shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is so dominant in the skyline of the city that it actually became one of the symbols of the city of Jerusalem.
Why is Dome of the Rock important?
The site’s great significance for Muslims derives from traditions connecting it to the creation of the world and the belief that Muhammad’s Night Journey to heaven started here.
The Dome of the Rock is built around a rock called the Foundation Stone. According to belief in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, the Foundation Stone is considered to be the place from which the creation of the world began and the place where God created the first human – Adam.
According to some Islamic scholars, this rock is also the spot from which the Islamic prophet Muhammad ascended to the Heavens accompanied by the angel Gabriel, so he would pray with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, as well as receive instructions from Allah (the name of God in Islam).
It is important to note that there are other Islamic scholars who believe that the prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and not from this shrine.
Where is Dome of the Rock located?
The Dome of the Rock is located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
What should I know before visiting the Dome of the Rock?
The Dome of the Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been called “Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark”.
The shrine was built between 92-691 CE on the site of the Jewish Second Temple (which was destroyed in 70 CE). After the dome collapsed in an earthquake in 1015, it was rebuilt in 1022-23 CE.
The architecture and mosaics of the shrine were patterned after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces. On the inside, the dome is lavishly decorated with mosaic, faience and marble. On the outside, the shrine has an octagonal plan, and is covered with beautiful, colorful tiles. All in all, it really is a feast for your eyes!
Perhaps its most notable feature is the golden roof. Surprisingly, this feature is the latest addition to the shrine – less than 80 years ago!
Before the Six Day war of 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem was under the rule of the Jordanian Kingdom. In 1955, the Kingdom began an extensive program of renovation, during which it replaced the blackened lead that covered the roof with its signature gold leaves, between the years 1959-1962.
Near the shrine you can also find the Dome of the Chain – a free-standing dome located adjacently to the east.
According to Islamic tradition, the Dome of the Chain is the spot where Judgment Day will occur in the “end of days”. Here a chain will stop the sinful and let only the righteous pass through.
The exact historical use of the Dome of the Chain is still not known. It has been speculated to have a series of different purposes, but none have been confirmed – it is suggested that the site was a place of holy judgment, a treasury, or a model for the construction of the Dome of the Rock.
Either way, this open structure has lovely and open architecture. It consists of two concentric open arcades, 17 columns, and is covered with vibrant and colorful tiles.
So when visiting the Dome of the Rock, be sure to visit the Dome of the Chain as well!