ABOUT DOME OF THE ROCK
The Dome of the Rock is a 7th-century edifice located in
It enshrines the rock from which Muḥammad is said to have
ascended to heaven.
Sometimes erroneously called the Mosque of Umar, from a
tradition that it was built by Caliph Umar I, the Dome of the Rock was actually
built by Caliph Abd al-Malik between 687 and 691.
The first domed shrine to be built, the Dome of the Rock is
a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.
The octagonal plan and the rotunda dome of wood are of Byzantine design. The Persian tiles on
the exterior and the marble slabs that decorate the interior were added by Suleiman I in 1561.
The Dome of the Rock is located on a rocky outcrop known as Mount Moriah, where, according to
Jewish belief, Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice. The inscriptions inside the building glorify Islam as
the final true revelation and culmination of the faiths of Judaism and Christianity. The building is actually not a
mosque but a ciborium, erected over a sacred site.
According to later Islamic tradition, the Rock (al-Sakhra)
in the midst of the building was the spot from which Mohammed ascended to
heaven after his miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem on the winged
A tradition states that by building the dome, Abd al-Malik
was attempting to transfer the Islamic hajj to Jerusalem from Mecca in Saudi
Arabia. The 60-foot-diameter, timber-framed double dome, covered internally
with colored and gilded stucco and originally roofed with lead covered in gold,
rises 35 meters over the holy rock.
It is carried on a tall drum, originally faced with glass mosaics, which rests on a circular
arcade of 12 marble columns, set in threes between four large rectangular piers. At the top of the drum, 16
colored glass windows light the central space. Inside and outside, the Dome of the Rock was enriched with marble
columns and facings and floral mosaic patterns.
During the Crusades, the Dome of the Rock was commandeered as a Christian shrine before
returning to Islamic hands. Many medieval people believed it to be the famous Temple of King Solomon.
Today, it is at the very core of a bitter dispute between Palestinians and Israelis. Although
sometimes referred to as the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock is in fact not a mosque. Nevertheless, as the
oldest extant Islamic monument, it served as a model for architecture and other artistic endeavors across three
continents for a millennium.