The Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock - "Khubat e-Sahrah" in Arabic - often wrongly called the Mosque of Omar, was the first permanent building erected on the Temple Mount after the conquest of Jerusalem by Islamic forces under Omar ibn el-Qattab in 638CE. It stands over the very same rock on which Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac and on which both the First and Second Temples were built, and from which Mohammed, according to Islamic traditions, is believed to have risen to heaven.
It was erected towards the end of the 7th Century CE by Abd el-Malik and is one of the most beautiful surviving examples of early Islamic architecture very strongly influenced by the Byzantine Empire's architecture, which Islam probably wanted to emulate and even outdo (see picture below). The decorations, although purely Islamic in content, also show the influence of Byzantine ceramic colours, particularly on the outside.
At the beginning of the 9th Century repairs were made to the structure and decorations and the initiator of the work, the Caliph el-Mamoun, attempted to claim credit for having built the original by having the name "Abd el-Malik" replaced by his own in a dedicatory plaque. Unfortunately the gentleman forgot to change the dates and his subterfuge, since he is known to have lived some 80-100 years later, was easily detected by later generations.
Taken over by the Crusaders with their conquest at the end of the 11th Century, they used it as a church, calling it Templum Domini - The Temple of the Lord, using a small out-building immediately to the northwest as a baptistry. Later it was recaptured, together with Jerusalem by Saladin after the fall of the Crusader Kingdom at the Battle of the Horns of Hattin on 4th July 1187.

From an architectural point of view the building is a masterpiece, fusing the lower octagonal section with the dome by melding them together with a drum. Internally the drum and dome are supported by the inner circle of columns a mixture of massive rectangular supports with slender round columns between (in the foreground can be seen the rock itself on which Abraham built an altar and attempted to sacrifice his son, Isaac):-

Here is rather a similar but more striking photograph by Martin Gray the photographer of sacred sites throughout the world, who has captured the sun streaming through the windows on to the rock itself; it, too, shows the architectural details with slightly more of the decorative themes.

The Rock
Photograph courtesy of www.sacredsites.com and Martin Gray.

The outer circle is composed of a sextet of monumental square supports with a further two slender columns between each pair. The sectioned illustration shows this very well:-

As with all Moslem buildings, the interior decorations are exquisitely beautiful and entirely geometric in design with no representation of living things, as is consistent with Islamic law. A wonderful example of this can be seen in the interior of the dome itself:-

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