The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located in Jerusalem, Israel. An Islamic landmark, it is considered one of the holiest sites by Muslims, and it supposed to be the place where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven alongside the angel Gabriel.
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The Dome lies on part of the Temple Mount, a site that is considered holy in the Jewish religion. It is built over the remains of the Jewish second temple.
It is not known exactly when construction began, but ancient reports hold that it was started around the late 680s. An inscription on the inside suggests that the building was finished around 691 or 692 AD.
In 1099, Jerusalem was captured by Christian crusaders who turned the Dome into a church. When the city was retaken by Saladin in the late 1100s, the building was converted back into an Islamic shrine. It then underwent extensive restoration.
The Ottoman rulers decided to coat the outside with tiles in the mid 1500s, a feat which took seven years. Another major renovation was ordered by the Ottoman Sultan near the end end of the 19th century. Restoration in the 20th century was paid for by the government of Jordan, with some money coming from Turkey and also Arab governments. The King of Jordan funded a new roof coating in 1993.
An Israeli flag was hoisted above the Dome at the end of the Six Day War, but then immediately taken down in order to keep the peace. The Israeli armed forces handed control of the building back to Muslim religious authorities.
The Dome of the Rock exhibits classic Byzantine architecture, and was inspired by many of the churches and other holy sites that were around in the Middle East at the time. It is considered to be the first example of Islamic architecture funded by a Muslim ruler purely for artistic purposes. It has no minaret.
The inside is sumptuously decorated with an array of tiles, mosaics and faience, as is traditionally seen with mosques and other Muslim holy sites. These interior decorations were added several centuries after the building was originally constructed. Most of the original work remains to the present day.
Originally, the roof of the Dome was covered in black lead. In the 1960s, this lead coating was replaced by an aluminium and bronze alloy with gold leaf paint on top. This gave the building is distinctive golden sheen which allows it to be seen from far away, and has made it the most prominent and recognisable landmark of Jerusalem.
The dome is 20 metres across and 30 metres above the underlying platform. The shape of the structure is meant to represent the aspiration to reach divinity.
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