Qubbat as-Sakhrah (Dome of the Rock)

Believed to be built on the spot where Prophet Muhammad ﷺ ascended to heaven during his night journey, Qubbat as-Sakhrah is one of the earliest existing model of Islamic architecture

Jerusalem, Palestine

Coordinates: 31.778033, 35.235407

The Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan ordered the building of the golden dome between 71-72 AH/691-692 AC on the highest spot of Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the middle of a plateau that is 4 meters higher than the rest of the mosque’s courtyards.

The Dome of the Rock, which is the earliest existing model of Islamic architecture, was built over what Muslims believe to be the Rock of Ascension.

According to Muslim tradition the rock is the spot where Prophet Mohammad ﷺ ascended to heaven during his night journey (Al-Isra’ wa Al-Mi’raj).

It is sitting on top of an octagonal-shaped building with four doors; the building’s dimensions are 20.59 meters in length and 9.5 meters in height. The dome is based on a circular drum ornamented with faience and decorated with verses from chapter 17 (Al-Isra’) of the Qur’an.

The dome has a 2.5-3° indentation in the structure of its circular pillars that grants the person full vision of its interior including the stone columns and pillars if he/she stands at any of its four entrances. A number of arched gates surround the Dome of the Rock’s plateau, but they only serve a decorative function.

The Dome comprises of:

The Dome built around the Holy Rock of Ascension;
• Four doors;
• Sixteen windows made of colored glass ornamented with Islamic motifs and writings;
• The Holy Rock of Ascension: it is a natural irregular shaped rock that has a small cave underneath in which two niches called the “Prophets’ chapel” have been carved, one of them is flat, while the other is deep. Muslims believe that this particular rock is the Rock of Ascension. Thus the rock and the cave underneath it, in which many Muslims pray thinking it is blessed, enjoy the same degree of sacredness as any other part of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Dome of the Rock and the Crusaders

The Crusaders occupied the city of Jerusalem in 1099 AC, and turned the Dome of the Rock Mosque into a church called “Templum Domini” or God’s temple. They added some ornaments, crosses, and icons to its original design and surrounded the Rock of Ascension with an iron fence to prevent people from stealing pieces of it. The church later became the Knights Templar’s headquarters. However, when Salahuddin Ayyubi رحمة الله عليه liberated the city of Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 583 AH/1187 AC he returned the building to its original function as a mosque for Muslims.