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Photography on this page by Charleston C. K. Wang, Shirley Wang, or Arthur Wang
Copyright 2010-2013 All Rights Reserved Charleston C. K. Wang, Esq., Publisher
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- Caesarea
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The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
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Empty
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"Descending to the
Dead Sea and
Ascending to
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Visiting The Iconic Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
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A rare fisheye photo of the Noble Sanctuary with
Masjid Al-Aqsa to the left and the Dome to the right
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The pilgrims of the St. George's College course "The Bible and its Setting" visited this iconic landmark on April 20, 2010.   The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: مسجد قبة الصخرة‎,
transliteration:
Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah, Hebrew: כיפת הסלע, transliteration: Kipat Hasela) is a mosque situated on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.  The Dome
was initially constructed in 691 CE by the 5th Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and forms the centerpiece of the larger area called the Noble Sanctuary which
commemorates the night journey of the Prophet Muhammad to Heaven (from which he later returned with the injunction for Muslim prayer).   Unfortunately for the pilgrims, the
inside of the Dome was at that time accessible only to the faithful.   However, since I lost a bet on my own ability to take photographs inside (and I will not mention what was the
prize of that wager), I can only describe with words what is within - under the dome and in the heart of the building is the Foundation Stone which is revered both in Judaism
and later by Muslims.  Also called the Pierced Stone because there is a small hole on the southeastern corner that accesses the Well of Souls, a cavern beneath.  This place,
according to Jewish Midrash, is the junction of Heaven and Earth and is also the fabled site of the Holy of Holies in the Temple of antiquity (when the Ark of the Covenant was
also present).  Muslims also worship the formation of the Noble Sanctuary as the spot on earth from which the Prophet ascended into Heaven while riding on a winged horse,
although the
al-Isra of the Quran succinctly recites that this night flight took place from the Masjid al-Haram (attributed to the grand mosque in Mecca) to the Farthest Mosque
and thence onwards to the signs of the Lord, indeed to a full tour of the seven tiers of Heaven according to Hadith (the
Mi'raj),

The Dome of the Rock is an eclectic delight for the art historian and student of medieval architecture because it was been variously redecorated through the times of the
Caliphates and then with the magnificence of the Ottoman Empire, having endured many earthquakes and changes of temporal authority.  The facade outside displays breath
taking turquoise (Turkish) tiles.   The columns around the octagonal structure appear to be Greco-Roman and contribute towards a Byzantine impression.  Other walls and piers
are covered with marble.  Rich mosaics embellish the upper parts of the piers, the soffits and spandrels of the octagonal arcade, the outer spandrels of the circular arcade,
and both drums.  Evidence of protracted repairs and restorations can be discerned.   Inscriptions are Quranic Arabic. Inside, the ceilings of the octagon and of the dome show
Mamluk or Ottoman style woodwork,  The tie-beams were wrapped with repoussé plaques of bronze.  Finally, an inspired visitor can imagine the thousands of oil lamps which
were used to illuminate  the mosaics, columns and marble-faced piers around the solid mass of darker rock surmounted by the soaring reverse cavern of the dome (rotunda)
that provides the portal to the heavens.

At the top of the great golden Dome is the depiction of a full moon (note the real half-moon in the upper right sky in the photograph below) which today symbolizes Islam,
although most mosques are identified with a crescent moon, with or without a star (perhaps following in the Ottoman-Istanbul-Constantinople connection).  I have been unable
to obtain a satisfactory explanation of the reason for the full moon on this mosque.   At the other end of the Noble Sanctuary is the Al Aqsa (the Farthest) Mosque itself, which
sometimes is confused with the Dome of the Rock.   
Charleston C. K. Wang, updated 1/23/2013.
Marble
Columnsand
Capitals in
the Greco-
Roman
Style
Photography on this page by Charleston C. K. Wang, Shirley Wang, or Arthur Wang
Copyright 2010-2013 All Rights Reserved Charleston C. K. Wang, Esq., Publisher
To view
"Visitng the
Dome of the
Rock"
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< The real moon.
Photocredit:  Charleston C. K. Wang
To read
"Hezekiah's
Tunnel under the
City of David,"
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