Dome of the Rock-Qubbat-as-Sakhrah shrine (Al Apsa Mosque?)
|Collection||Byzantine Research Fund|
Harvey, Mr William
|Scope and Content||Façade of a mosque (Al Aqsa Mosque?) at the Rock. The photograph is annotated in pencil at the back.|
|Further information||The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (the Qubbat-as-Sakhrah shrine) was erected, according to the still surviving dedicatory inscription, by the Muslim ruler Abd el-Malik 691/2 over a rock sacred both to Muslims and Jews.
According to the Islamic tradition, Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven from the site accompanied by Archangel Gabriel at the end of his Night Journey.
In the Jewish tradition, the location is venerated as the Foundation Stone, the site of the Holy of Holies of the Temple period and the rock upon which Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac. In the early Byzantine period empress Helen constructed a small church on the site which was later on enlarged. It is the oldest extant Islamic monument and one of the holiest sites in Islam.
The structure is octagonal, in the shape of a Byzantine martyrium, covered by a lead dome, approximately 20m in diameter. Sixteen piers and columns support the dome while an octagonal arcade of 24 piers surrounds the building. Lavish mosaic, faience and marble decorate the interior. Worth noting are the inscriptions, which include some of the earliest Qur’an citations. In the crusader period, the dome was turned into an Augustinian church but was re-consecrated after Saladin’s recapture of Jerusalem: a golden crescent replaced the wooden cross on the top of the dome. The gold-coloured covering was last replaced in 1993.