#897 Dome of the Rock (Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah), Palestine (Israel)

Long before I saw the Dome of the Rock, Muslim scholars in Morocco told me about it and made me impressed. I do think it is quite lovely to build a temple simply to recognize that one small spot on earth needs to be remembered. It is a temple to remember what happened in that place, not because that place happens to be sacred in itself, although of course it is now sacred because of its historical importance. 

Mohammed's sacred Night Journey to accept the Koran from God and pray with Abraham (Ibrahim), Moses (Musa) and Jesus (Isa) is a fundamental aspect of Islam, and it is said that it was from this rock that he ascended there. The rock itself can only be viewed by Muslims, so I did not go inside. The outside, however, is spectacular, and an amazing piece of architecture, especially considering it was built in 691. It is one of the most important buildings and sacred sites in Islam, and follows the traditional geometry beautifully, although some scholars have said that the dome itself was intended as competition to Christian domes.

The fact that the Dome of the Rock happens to be in sacred Jerusalem could be considered ironic -- the Temple Mount is the foundation of the destroyed (second) Jewish Temple of Solomon, and the Western Wall of the large platform on which the Dome of Rock stands serves as the place for prayer for Jews, also know as the Wailing Wall. Nothing can be separated -- just as the ovens that cooked the bread were the same fires that heated the hamams, these two sacred places are inseparable, and thus their status and ownership will forever be disputed. 
View of the Dome of the rock from the other side of Jerusalem.
Postcard of an aerial view of the Dome of the Rock with Jerusalem behind.
Photo of the rock inside the dome. Photo from 

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