Notes on the Geography of Jerusalem: The Haram (Temple Mount): Photo 1
The Dome of the Rock was begun in 687 by the Umayyad Caliph Abdel Malik. Mecca at the time was inaccessible because of a rival caliph, and Abdel Malik needed an alternative pilgrimage center. He chose Jerusalem, then dominated by Christian monuments. Specifically, he chose the rock where Abraham is supposed to have prepared to sacrifice Isaac. In the center of the building is the massive knob of that rock, which Muslims circumambulate just as they do the Black Stone at Mecca. Enclosing it are two profusely decorated concentric colonnades--an inner circular one, which supports the dome, and an outer octagonal one, midway between the dome and the outside wall. The octagonal exterior was originally covered in mosaic, but since the time of Suleiman the Magnificent (d. 1566) it has been tiled and re-tiled, most recently about 1960, when Jerusalem belonged to Jordan. The view here is from the public entrance, which is on the south side.
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