Jerusalem Sights

Dome of the Rock and Haram esh-Sharif (Temple Mount)

  • Access between Western Wall and Dung Gate Map It
  • Muslim Quarter
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 05/04/2017

Fodor's Review

The magnificent golden Dome of the Rock dominates the vast 35-acre Temple Mount, the area known to Muslims as Haram esh-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). At its southern end, immediately in front of you as you enter the area from the Western Wall plaza (the only gate for non-Muslims), is the large, black-domed al-Aqsa Mosque, the third in holiness for Muslims everywhere.

Herod the Great built the Temple Mount in the late 1st century BC, and included the center of the plaza was the Second Temple, the one Jesus knew.

Jewish tradition identifies the great rock at the summit of the hill—now under the gold dome—as the foundation stone of the world, and the place where Abraham bound and almost sacrificed his son Isaac (Genesis 22). With greater probability, this was where the biblical King David made a repentance offering to the Lord (II Samuel 22), and where his son Solomon built "God's House," the so-called First Temple. The Second Temple stood on the identical spot,

but the memory of its precise location was lost after the Roman destruction and the banning of Jews from Jerusalem.

The Haram today is a Muslim preserve, and tradition has it that Muhammad rose to heaven from this spot in Jerusalem to meet God face-to-face, received the teachings of Islam, and returned to Mecca the same night, and the great rock was the very spot from which the Prophet ascended.

The Muslim shrines are closed to non-Muslims to leave the faithful alone to enjoy the wondrous interiors of stained-glass windows, granite columns, green-and-gold mosaics, arabesques, and superb medieval masonry. Even if you can't get inside, the vast plaza is both visually and historically arresting and worth a visit. Take a look at the bright exterior tiles of the Dome of the Rock and the remarkable jigsaws of fitted red, white, and black stone in the 14th- and 15th-century Mamluk buildings that line the western edge of the plaza.

Security check lines to enter the area are often long; it's best to come early. Note that the gate near the Western Wall is for entrance only. You can exit through any of the other eight gates on the site. The Muslim attendants are very strict about modest dress, and prohibit Bibles in the area. For information about these sites, see the feature "Jerusalem: Keeping the Faith" in this chapter.

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Sight Information


Access between Western Wall and Dung Gate, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Map It



Sight Details:

  • Free
  • Closed Fri. and Sat.

Published 05/04/2017


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