The Dome of the Rock is the most spectacular building in Jerusalem. It was built by caliph Abd al-Malik between 688 and 691 AD and is the first major sanctuary built by Islam. It was built over the rock on which tradition says Abraham intended to sacrifice Isaac and its purpose was to send a strong message to Judaism and Christianity about the presence and superiority of Islam. It is situated on what had been Temple Mount, where the magnificent temple built by Herod the Great had stood until it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Sadly, non-Muslims are no longer allowed to go inside either the Dome of the Rock or the nearby al-Aqsa Mosque. Due to the tension the previous Friday, there was some doubt about whether we would be allowed onto the Temple Mount at all, but fortunately it was reopened for the first time on Monday. The security checks are stringent; the guards even riffle through books to check they don’t contain anything that might be offensive to Muslims. Bibles, Christian prayer books, or anything Christian (such as crosses, etc.) are forbidden and, as usual, all our bags and belongings had to be scanned before we were allowed through.
It was worth it just to get a close look at this iconic building, which for many symbolises Jerusalem. We were only allowed a couple of hours to wander around and take photographs, and the photos don’t do it justice, but they do give an idea of the delicacy of the tiles on the outside as well as the beautiful proportions of the building itself.