One of the oldest and most beautiful of all Islamic monuments, the Dome of the Rock is the third holiest site of Islam after Mecca and Medina. The shrine is also important in Judaism, since it stands on the site of the two temples of the Jews-the first built by King Soloman and the second by King Herod.
Considered one of the first and greatest achievements of Islamic architecture, the Dome of the Rock is a shrine constructed in AD 688-91 by the Omayyad caliph Abd el- Malik. Built to proclaim the superiority of Islam and provide an Islamic focal point in the Holy City, the majestic structure now dominates Jerusalem and is its symbol. The mathematically harmonious structure echoes elements of Classical and Byzantine architecture
The Koran, the holy book of Islam, is regarded as the exact word of Allah. Muslims believe that it can never be truly understood unless read in Arabic; translations into other languages can only ever paraphrase. The Koran is divided into 114 chapters, covering many topics. One of the core episodes recounts the Night Journey of the Prophet Mohammed. In this, he is carried from Mecca to Jerusalem and from there makes the Miraj, the ascent through the heavens to God’s presence, returning to Mecca in the morning.
Haram ash-Sharif -Temple Mount, is located in the southeastern part of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a major Islamic religious sanctuary and home to a number of important buildings, including the Dome of the Rock. Traditionally the site of Solomon’s Temple, it later housed the Second Temple, enlarged by Herod the Great and destroyed by the Romans. Left in ruins for more than half a century, the Haram ash-Sharif became an Islamic shrine in 691with the construction of the Dome of the Rock.
Just east of the Dome of the Rock stands the small Dome of the Chain, set at the approximate center of the Haram ash-Sharif. The reasons given for its construction are varied. According to one theory, it sits at the site of the Holy of Holies (the most sacred and inaccessible place in Herod’s Temple), which is thought of in Jewish tradition as the omphalos, the navel of the universe. The Dome of the Chain is a simple structure with a domed roof supported by 17 columns. It is famous for its marvelous 13th-century interior tiling, which surpasses even that of the Dome of the Rock. lts name derives from the legend that a chain once hung from the roof and whoever told a lie while holding it would be struck dead by lightning. Farther east is the Golden Gate, one of the original Herodian city gates.