Highlights of the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock
The spot where the Dome of the Rock is situated is, according to both Jewish and Muslim tradition, the place where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac in the book of Genesis and is in Judaism called The Temple Mount. The present building with its golden dome, is a Muslim shrine which was built in year 688 to 691 in memory of the prophet Muhammad’s night visit to Jerusalem on his horse Buraq (the Quran, sura 17). The shrine and Temple Mount plaza is the third holiest site in Islam and is visited by a large number of pilgrims every year.
In the centre of the Dome of the bare rock where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son, surrounded by the beautiful, octagonally shaped building. Its walls are covered with beautiful painted tiles inscribed with verses of the Quran in the extraordinary Arabic calligraphy. The interior was renovated in the 16. Century by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who brought in Armenian expertise to paint the tiles which we can still see today in all its splendour.
For the Christian visitor it will be of special interest to see the inside of the Golden Gate at the eastern wall of the plaza pointing towards the Mount of Olives, while visiting the Temple Mount. It was once an open gate as all the other gates of the Old City, but was sealed off during Ottoman times. According to Christian tradition the gate will stay closed until the return of Jesus in the Second Coming, and according to Jewish tradition too it will be the gate through which the Messiah will come.
Background Information of the Temple Mount
The Temple Mount is one of the politically most sensitive spots today, due to its ancient history and status as a the holiest place in Judaism and the third holiest place in Islam. It was where the First and Second Jewish Temple stood and where tradition says Muhammad visited during a night flight from Mecca on his horse. In the 7th Century the Muslim Dome of the Rock was built on the spot where the Temple once stood but Jews are forbidden according to Jewish religious law to enter the area due to the holiness of the Temple inherent in the area. The Temple Mount fell into Israeli hands during the Six Day War in 1967 but was left under the administration of the Muslim Wakf of Jerusalem. Archaeological excavations have never taken place at the Mount and there is controversy about keeping the status quo of the area.
The Temple Mount is under the administration of the Muslim Wakf Trust. Non-Muslim visitors are requested to show respect for the Muslim traditions and non-Muslim prayer is forbidden in any area. Both women and men are requested to dress modestly with covered legs, arms and shoulders while on the plaza.
Non-Muslim visitors can only visit the Temple Mount during a few hours in the morning, Sunday through Thursday, and only through the entrance visible from the Western Wall as well as for one hour in the afternoon. The Wakf are very strict concerning non-Muslim prayer on the plaza of the Mount, and attempts to pray are not recommended. Women are not allowed into the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Modest dress code. Entrance fee.