One of the most famous structures of Islamic architecture can be found in Jerusalem.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting Dome of the Rock facts, one of the best-recognized domes in the world!
1. It’s located on a world-famous hill in Jerusalem
The Dome of the Rock is a famous Islamic building located on Temple Mount, a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem. This hill is known by Muslims as “Haram esh-Sharif” which translates to “The Noble Sanctuary.”
Originally known as “Mount Moriah,” this is probably one of the most important religious places in the world as it has been considered a holy location in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
2. It was built on the site of the Second Jewish Temple
Temple Mount was the location that the First Jewish Temple was built. This temple was constructed by King Solomon, the son of King David, who built it to house the “Ark of the Covenant.”
If you have watched “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” then you surely know what this ark is about. If not, it supposedly contains the two stone tablets describing the Ten Commandments.
This original temple was completed in 957 B.C. and destroyed around 587-586 B.C. by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. He is the one who initiated the Babylonian captivity as described in the Book of Daniel.
The Second Jewish Temple stood on the site between 516 B.C. and 70 A.D. It was seriously expanded during the reign of Herod the Great (72 – 4 B.C.) but was destroyed by the Romans during the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Roman Emperor Vespasian along with his son Titus sacked Jerusalem and plundered the temple. This would eventually fund the construction of one of the most infamous buildings ever constructed, the Flavian Amphitheater in Rome, better known as the “Colosseum.”
3. The structure was constructed at the end of the 7th century
The temple was sacked a second time during the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 A.D., also referred to as the “Third Jewish-Roman War.” The area of Temple Mount remained largely undeveloped after this event and it wasn’t until Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik gave the order to build an Islamic shrine on the location in 685 A.D.
This original structure pretty much had the same dimensions as the current structure. An inscription on inner walls has been discovered which mentions the year 691 A.D.
One of the most remarkable Dome of the Rock facts is that historians believe that this is the year that the original, wooden dome of the structure was completed.
4. The original dome collapsed and was replaced in the 11th century
The building has been partially destroyed and restored several times in its history because of several earthquakes. The most noteworthy are those of 808, 846, and a major earthquake in 1015.
This earthquake in the 11th century pretty much destroyed the original wooden dome. It was rebuilt into its current form between 1022 and 1023.
5. The site has significant importance in the Abrahamic religions
According to the Abrahamic religions, the Foundation Stone around which the Dome of the Rock was constructed is the location that God created Earth and the first human being, Adam. It’s also considered to be the holiest of all places on Earth in Judaism and the place that Jews face during prayer.
The Foundation Stone is also known as the “Noble Stone” or the “Pierced Stone.” It has a small hole in it in its southeastern corner which leads to the “Well of Souls,” a small cavern that is referred to as the “Holy of Holies.“
6. The location has great importance for Muslims as well
Muslims believe that the spot that Dome of the Rock was constructed on is the spot that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven along with the angel Gabriel to receive instructions from Allah.
Even though Muslims now face the Kaaba in Mecca, it’s believed they originally faced the Dome of the Rock during prayer as well, similar to the Jews.
7. It’s one of the first Islamic structures to be ever completed
It’s considered to be the first Islamic architectural structure to be ever built by a Muslim ruler. It was built in the late 7th century, the same century that Muhammad received his first revelations. This event supposedly happened in the year 613.
The walls of the structure have some of the earliest inscriptions mentioning Islam and making references to the Prophet Muhammad. This makes it one of the most significant buildings ever constructed in Islamic architecture.
8. Its design was probably inspired by a 5th-century Byzantine church
The structure has an octagonal design and has a diameter of approximately 20 meters (66 feet). It’s supported by 12 columns and encircled by 24 piers. The outer walls also have an octagonal design and are 18 meters (60 feet) wide and 11 meters (36 feet) high.
The octagonal design of the structure was most probably inspired by the Church of the Seat of Mary, a Byzantine church that was built between Bethlehem and Jerusalem between 451 and 458 on the supposed resting place of Jesus’ mother Mary.
Subsequently, the design of the Dome of the Rock formed the inspiration for multiple structures all across Europe, including the Mausoleum of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in Istanbul, Turkey, and the New Synagogue in Berlin, Germany.
9. It was referred to as the “Templum Domini” by the Knights Templar
When Pilgrims in Jerusalem were being harassed, the Crusades were launched. This resulted in the formation of the Knights Templar after Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders in the year 1099.
The Templars recognized the Dome of the Rock as the location of the Temple of Solomon and referred to it as the “Templum Domini.” The structure was added to the backside of their official seal and churches with a similar octagonal design were constructed all across Europe during this period.
10. Magnificent tiles were added to its façade in the 16th century
During the reign of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent between 1520 and 1566, the Dome of the Rock’s exterior was decorated with amazing-looking tiles consisting of Turkish faience tiles.
Even though most of the tiles had gone missing by the end of the 19th century, these were all replaced during a serious renovation project which took place in the 1950s and 1960s.
These replacement tiles were produced in Italy and are faithful copies of the original ones.
11. The dome was covered with a gold leaf between 1959 and 1962
During the same renovation project, which had started in 1955, the original lead exterior was replaced with durable aluminum bronze plates. This gave the dome a completely different appearance than the original black color of the lead dome.
One of the most fascinating Dome of the Rock facts is that these bronze aluminum plates were also covered with gold leaves between 1959 and 1962, which is what gives the dome its distinctive look.
12. It’s considered to be one of the most famous landmarks in Jerusalem
It’s hard to deny the fact that the Dome of the Rock is Jerusalem’s best-recognizable landmark. It even stands out among other famous monuments such as the world-famous Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This church is located in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem and dates back to the 4th century as it was originally built during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great on the location the Jesus was supposedly crucified and where he was resurrected.
The Dome of the Rock is one of the most famous Islamic architectural structures and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.