The Dome of the Rock
Mosque of Omar
Old City of Jerusalem
The Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar), built in 691, is the
most beautiful building in Jerusalem, it's golden dome
glistening in the sun. The third holiest Islamic site, the
mosque contains a gigantic sacred rock upon which it is
believed that Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and from
which the Prophet Mohammed began his night journey (or
ascended to heaven.) This picture was taken from the Tower
of David, also in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Now I am on Temple Mount, taking a Dome of the Rock close
up. (My best photo of the mosque is Here .) No cameras or
equipment of any kind are allowed inside the Dome of the
Rock, which is unfortunate. The interior is exquisite, and the
huge rock dark black. However, there are threats to the
mosque, explained below, which justify such security
measures by the Islamic authorities in charge of the site.
This picture was taken from the Mount of Olives, looking
back towards the Old City and other parts of Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock is very close to the Ottoman Empire
walls which entirely surround the Old City.
My most artistic photo of the mosque while on Temple Mount.
The Dome of the Rock is a symbol to the Palestinians of their
desire for a state of their own, with its capital in Arab East
Jerusalem, bordering on the Old City. However, the Dome of
the Rock was built on the site of the Jewish Temple, which the
Romans had destroyed 600 years earlier, in 70 AD/CE.
Temple Mount is thus also sacred to the Jewish people, leading
to many conflicting Jewish attitudes towards the Moslem
structures there. Most Israeli Jews accept the present
situation, with mosques on Temple Mount. Religious views
vary from forbidding Jews to set foot on Temple Mount, a
belief that only the Messiah can restore the Jewish Temple, to
insistence that Jews be allowed to pray on Temple Mount (this
is now banned), all the way to the most extreme position which
calls for blowing up the Dome of the Rock, replacing it with a
new Jewish Temple. Currently Israeli and Moslem authorities
cooperate in trying to protect the Dome of the Rock (also the
El-Aqsa Mosque), halting any Jews from praying on Temple
Mount. It is an extremely tense situation.
Here is the bigger picture. Below the Dome of the Rock is the
Western Wall, the holiest site for Jews, all that remains of the
Jewish Temple. (It is wrongly called the Wailing Wall.) That
is where Jews pray. On the right side is the stairway that
provides access from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City to
Temple Mount. You can see the shut green door, which means
Temple Mount is closed to visitors. When open, Israeli
checkpoints stop Jews from entering who may be carrying
anything dangerous or are wearing prayer shawls plus other
religious items that suggest an intent to pray, all such prayer
having been forbidden by Moslem authorities, who also
strictly enforce these rules, closing Temple Mount if
provocations occur. Tourists, such as myself, had no problem
entering Temple Mount in 1995.
Ultimate sovereignty over Temple Mount remains one of the
most difficult issues for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to
ever agree upon, assuming real peace negotiations resume.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the
Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's free video of this trip by
clicking on: Land of Milk and Chutzpah