The Dome of the Rock is a magnificent Islamic shrine with a massive gold dome situated on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. First built-in the late 7th century CE by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān; the dome is one of the oldest surviving works of Islamic architecture and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Dome of the Rock which is also hailed as “Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark”; the shrine was built on the Temple Mount; the site where the Second Jewish Temple once stood before it was ravaged during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. When the Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 636 CE; they built the gold-topped Islamic shrine and the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and it is now the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina. That is a fact that many visitors to Jerusalem confuse with the Golden Dome for some reason. But no, the fact is the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the holiest site.
The Dome of the Rock is known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif, and the rock on which the shrine was built is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Jewish tradition believes it was here on the summit of Mount Moriah that Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son; Isaac, while the Islam faith believes the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended into heaven from the site.
It’s told that Muhammad ‘haggled’ with God till they agreed on five prayers a day for the Muslims. Moreover, Jews also believe that this is the famous foundation stone where the creation of the universe began. In fact, there are many other traditions relating to the Temple Mt. area. But I will tell you all about them on my private tours of Jerusalem, in great length!
While reminiscent of the traditional Byzantine religious buildings known as martyria; the Dome of the Rock stands as one of the earliest examples of a distinct Islamic visual style that would become popular in the following centuries. The design of the octagonally shaped structure with its striking golden dome is thought to have been influenced by the beautiful Byzantine Church of the Seat of Mary which was built in the 5th century on the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Inspiring Interiors in the Dome of the Rock
Moreover, the Dome of the Rock’s interior is nothing short of magnificent with a lavish blend of faience (tin-glazed pottery); mosaics, and marble. Also, there are also many Quranic inscriptions; including a dedicatory inscription in Kufic script around the dome containing the completion date of the dome (620 CE); and images of vegetal patterns intermingled with jewels and crowns.
Visiting the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock
The best way to visit the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock is on a guided tour of Jerusalem. The area within the Temple Mount features over 100 different structures spanning different periods; including arches, fountains; and prayer locations, and a local guide will be able to delve into the rich history of this historically and religiously significant site.
Do feel free to contact me and I will prepare the ultimate trip to Jerusalem for you! In fact, I am willing to chat for free, in my online chat or via messenger. So don’t hesitate and get in touch! One of the best places that I like to tour is Jerusalem especially Temple Mt which is fascinating! Sadly some tend to skip but I truly tell it’s a must-see site in Jerusalem.
Tips For Visiting the Dome of the Rock
So since lines can be very long it is important to arrive early and be prepared to wait. They are even longer during peak season and holidays. But at the same time, I can tell you from my own experience as a private tour guide in Jerusalem that if you would come sometime after they had opened the gates you can enter without waiting in many times.
Second, if you have any religious artifacts or articles on you, regardless if they are Christian or Jewish, you will not be permitted to bring these items in with you. So save your shopping for after your visit! You may be denied entry for carrying religious artifacts with you and that would be a shame, isn’t it? I mean you waited in line for so long.
Also, you should make sure you have your documents with you in order to enter the Temple Mount.
When visiting it is forbidden to practice Christian or Jewish prayer
And my last tip would be to dress modestly and respectfully. Headscarves are not required. Women must have their shoulders covered and should wear long pants or a long skirt. Men should not be wearing shorts. The security there is quite fussy so just be respectful of the security guards and do not take photos of them. Remember this is the third holiest site for Muslims right after Mecca and Medina, so maintaining respect is fundamental!
Dome of the Rock Opening Hours
Monday through Thursday:
Winter: 7:30 am – 10:30 am and 12:30pm – 1:30 pm
Summer: 8:30am – 11:30am and 1:30pm – 2:30 pm