Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, the Dome of the Rock is built on top of the Temple Mount in the Old City. At the heart of the sanctuary is the Foundation Stone where, according to Islamic tradition, the prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven.
The Dome, which was completed in 691-692 A.D., and has since come to define Jerusalem’s skyline, is an excellent example of middle Byzantine art. The man who initiated the construction, Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, hoped that the building, a shrine for pilgrims rather than a mosque for public worship, would “house the Muslims from cold and heat.” The structure was restored many times throughout the centuries, coated once with gold, then with tiles.
The most recent restoration of the site was carried out in 1998 by Jordan’s King Hussein II, who sold one of his houses in London to help fund the 80 kilograms of gold required to coat the dome. The sanctuary’s lavish interior is decorated with mosaic, marble and inscriptions. One of the reasons why the sanctuary has remained intact through the centuries, withstanding earthquakes that destroyed many nearby structures, is its octagonal shape.
Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock, but can get a close look from the Temple Mount courtyard during regular non-Muslim visiting hours.
As with other holy sites in Jerusalem, visitors to the Temple Mount are asked to dress modestly.