Important Sites: The Dome of the Rock

Jerusalem, a sacred city to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, houses Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Both Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, known in Arabic as Masjid Qubbat as-Sakhrah, are built on the Temple Mount in the Old City in Jerusalem.

The entire area is referred to as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, and is sacred to Muslims because the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from that area during the Night Journey. The Dome of the Rock is probably more widely recognized than Al-Aqsa because of its architecture. The focus of this post, the fourth in a series on important sites, is the Dome of the Rock.

The Dome of the Rock was initially constructed in 691 C.E., 55 years after Muslims had captured Jerusalem. It is one of the earliest Islamic buildings. The Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik Marwan ordered its building. The Dome of the Rock has an octagonal base and is topped with a golden dome. The outside of the base is covered with beautiful tile; the inside is decorated with mosaics and Qur’anic inscriptions. The Dome of the Rock has been renovated several times, but it still retains its distinct design.

This structure is important not only because of  its location in Al-Haram Al-Sharif but also because it represents the beginning of a distinct Islamic visual style. Pictures of Jerusalem are dominated by this golden domed structure. The Dome of the Rock set a very high standard for Islamic architecture in the centuries that followed and it continues to represent an architectural achievement.

Have you visited the Dome of the Rock? What was your experience at the sanctuary? Why do you think the Dome of the Rock is important? Do you think that the architecture of the Dome of the Rock has influenced other buildings? Please share your comments below.

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