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The Dome of the Rock

During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent the exterior of the Dome of the Rock was covered with Iznik tiles. In 1955 the government of Jordan began an extensive program of renovation, with funds supplied by the Arab governments and Turkey. The work included replacement of large numbers of tiles dating back to the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, which had become dislodged by heavy rain. In 1960, as part of this restoration, the dome was covered with a durable aluminum and bronze alloy made in Italy. The restoration was completed in August 1964. In 1998 the golden dome covering was refurbished following a donation of $8.2 million by Kind Hussein of Jordan who sold one of his houses in London to fund the 80 kilograms of gold required.

Group pic at the Dome of the Rock

During the Crusades the Dome of the Rock was given to the Augustinians, who turned it into a church, and the Al-Aqsa, Mosque became the royal palace of Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1104. The Knights Templar, who believed the dome of the Rock was the site of the Temple of Solomon, set up their headquarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque adjacent to the dome for much of the 12 th century. The “Templum Domini,” as they called it, was featured on the official seals of the Order’s Grand Masters ( such as Evard de Barres and Refnaud de Vichier), and it became the architectural model for Templar churches across Europe. The Dome of the Rock (the other principal building being the Al- Aqsa Mosque) is one of the holiest sites in Islam, following Mecca and Medina. Its Significance stems from the religious beliefs regarding the rock at its heart. According to Islamic tradition, the rock is the spot from where Muhammad ascended to Heaven accompanied by the an gel Gabriel. The Foundation Stone is the holiest site in Judaism. Just as Muslims pray towards the Kaabaat Mecca, the holiest site in Islam, Jews pray towards the Foundation Stone.

Abigail and Valentina at the Dome of the Rock

Jews have traditionally regarded the location of the stone as the holiest spot on Earth, the site of the Holy of Holies during the Temple Period. In former times, some Jewish scholars thought that the location of the Holy of Holies was not known for certain; today this is a minority opinion. According to Jewish tradition, the stone is the site where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. In Christianity it is believed that during the time of the Byzantine Empire, near by the spot where the Dome was later constructed was where Constantine’s mother built a small church, calling it the Church of St. Cyrus and St. John, later on enlarged and called the Church of the Holy Wisdom. On the walls of the Dome of the Rock is an inscription in a mosaic frieze that includes the following words: “Such was Jesus son of Mary and peace upon him on the day of birth and on the day of death and on the day he is raised up
again. It s a word of truth in which they doubt. It is not for God to take a son. Glory be to him when he decrees a thing he only says be, and it is: (Quran: 19:33-35). The date recorded as 72 after the Hijra (or 691-692 CE), which historians view as the year of the Dome’s construction.

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