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Israel: Dome of the Rock

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Dome of the Rock | Israel | Asia

[Visited: March 2008]

A visit to Jerusalem cannot be complete without a visit to its most famous building, the Dome of the Rock. This is the third most sacred place for Muslims, since inside the dome is a slab of stone from which Mohammed is supposed to have left the Earth to be reunited with Allah. Problem is that Jews claim that the rock actually is the foundation stone of our world. Yet another example of the complex religious situation of this holy city. While the first Jewish temple was built on Temple Mount, as they call it, around 1000 years before Christ, the temple was destroyed, another rebuilt, while the Romans built a temple in honour of Zeus on this holy but man-made platform; this temple was converted to a Christian church later on. After the Dome was constructed, the Crusaders used it as a church.

Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Golden dome of the rock is one of the symbols of Jerusalem

Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik had the Dome constructed at the end of the 7th century; his architects took a close look at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a mere 15 minute walk away, and almost exactly copied the measurements of the dome. The building itself is hexagonal, with arched niches and blue and green tile-work showing decorations and calligraphy all around, beautifully decorated with calligraphy. Originally, the gold dome was made of melted gold dinar coins; the original dome had to be melted down again later in history to pay the debts of a sultan. At the end of the 20th century, King Hussein of Jordan provided for the gold to cover the dome once again, by selling one of his London residences.

Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Ceiling of the Dome of the Chain

Visiting the Dome of the Rock is not made easy: the entrance is a small side entrance next to the main entrance to the Western Wall area. After finding the entrance to security control and walking through the wooden bridge, you reach Bab al Maghariba, the entrance for non-Muslims. As soon as you reach the top of the mount through the gate, it is quiet. Cypresses stand tall in line, witnesses of history, on the right, you can find al-Aqsa mosque. Walking towards the centre of Haram ash-Sharif, the golden dome easily leads the way. The arches over the stairs are thought by Muslims to be used on Judgment Day to weight the souls of the dead. The flat platform gives a feeling of space, especially after coming from the crammed alleys of the old city. The golden dome shines intensely, the exterior walls are easier to appreciate. The Dome of the Chains gives a dazzling sensation of space because of the effects of the floor. It is unfortunate that non-Muslims are not allowed in the Dome itself, so walking around it, and enjoying the views are the only things you can do before descending through the Bab al-Qattanin to the market below.

Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Detail with calligraphy at the exterior of the Dome of the Rock
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Blue and green exterior with golden Dome of the Rock
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Haram ash-Sharif or Temple Mount on which the Dome of the Rock can be found
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Dome of the Rock dominating the Western Wall
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): View from the Mount of Olives with the Dome of the Rock
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Dome of the Chain: view of the Dome of the Rock
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Dome of the Chain: interior
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Arches framing the golden Dome of the Rock
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Stairs, arches and Dome of the Rock
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Morning sun over Russian Orthodox church and Dome of the Rock
Picture of Dome of the Rock (Israel): Entrance to Dome of the Rock

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