The Dome of the Rock

Arabic QUBBAT AS-SAKHRAH, also erroneously referred to as the MOSQUE OF OMAR, this shrine in Jerusalem is the oldest extant Islamic monument. The rock over which the shrine was built is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. The Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, is traditionally believed to have ascended into heaven from the site. In Jewish tradition, it is here that Abraham, the progenitor and first patriarch of the Hebrew people, is said to have prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Dome and Al-Aqsa Mosque are both located on the Temple Mount, the site of Solomon's Temple and its successors.

The Dome of the Rock was built between AD 685 and 691 by the caliph 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, not as a mosque for public worship but rather as a mashhad, a shrine for pilgrims. It is virtually the first monumental building in Islamic history and is of considerable aesthetic and architectural importance; it is rich with mosaic, faience, and marble, much of which was added several centuries after its completion. Basically octagonal, the Dome of the Rock is more typically Roman or Byzantine than Islamic. A wooden dome--approximately 60 feet (18 m) in diameter and mounted on an elevated drum--rises above a circle of 16 piers and columns. Surrounding this circle is an octagonal arcade of 24 piers and columns. The outer walls repeat this octagon, each of the eight sides being approximately 60 feet (18 m) wide and 36 feet (11 m) high. Both the dome and the exterior walls contain many windows.

Christians and Muslims in the European Middle Ages believed the Dome itself to be the Temple of Solomon (Templum Domini). The Knights Templars were quartered there in the Crusades, and Templar churches in Europe imitated its plan.

Links to images and information on the Dome of the Rock/Qubbat as-sakhra:


 Back to Interactive Map