Al-Aqsa Mosque is not only the Dome of the Rock

Many of us may confuse between Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock; some people even think of them as one despite the clear distinction. This perhaps because they both share the holy status, or they share the location in the ancient Jerusalem.

  • The holly dome of the rock
  • Al zone Aqsa Mosque
  • the Houses around The dome of the rock
  • The Arches of Al-Aqsa
  • the markets outside the Aqsa fence end of 18th century
  • the gates of Al Aqsa area
  • the gates of Al Aqsa area
Read About The Minbar of Saladin: Reconstructing a Jewel of Islamic

However, here are four main titles that in my opinion the least one should know about the holly spot:

1. The Ancient Jerusalem (Al-Quds)

Which until 1860 AD constituted the entire city of Jerusalem is a walled area of ​​144,000 square meters, that is located inside the occupied East Jerusalem and embraces Al-Aqsa Mosque with all its symbols.

The ancient Jerusalem layout
The ancient Jerusalem layout

2. Al-Aqsa Mosque (Al-Qudsi sanctuary)

It is, in turn, a walled complex with an area of circa a square kilometre, that includes the Dome of the Rock, the Qibli Mosque, the Omar Mosque, the Marwani Mosque, the old Al-Aqsa Mosque, Al-Buraq Mosque, the Sabil Qaitbay (market) and Al-Ashrafiya School … in addition to a group of domes, buildings, pray niches and terraces; the number of which is about 200.

The Al-Buraq Wall also represents part of the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which the Jews considered the Wailing Wall and took it as a shrine since the nineteenth century.

The gates pf Al-Aqsa wall
The gates pf Al-Aqsa wall

As for the huge wall; it was built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent — who ruled the city between 1520 and 1566 AD. The wall extends to 3662 meters with height of about twelve meters. It also has 34 defense and eleven gates… of which four are closed.

The open doors are: the Lions Gate, the Damascus Gate, the Sahira Gate, the New Gate, the Hebron Gate, the Mughrabi Gate, and the Prophet David Gate

Al-Aqsa Mosque has a sublime position in the Muslim’s faith as the holly path of the great messenger- Muhammad- to heaven, and also as blessing for the inhabitants of the mosque surrounding in their livelihood, sustenance, cultivation and plantation; this is stated in the Noble Qur’an ( Al Israa Verses)

3. Dome of the Rock

Al-Aqsa sanctuary is located on a small hill called “Moria Hill”. The rock on which the dome was built is its highest point… to be the mosque’s most prominent landmark.

The rock on which the dome was built
The rock on which the dome was built

This magnificent building was excelled by the architects of the Umayyad dynasty during the reign of Abd al-Malik bin Marwan; they built it in three geometric circles, with the three architectural elements that came from the intersection of two equal squares, and resulted in an octagonal portico.

Note: The Dome of the Chain* that was erected before the Dome of the Rock as a miniature model to test the structure system before building the great Dome. This modelling was architectural norm at that time: read another example : Little Hagya Sophia is not Little

the Dome of the Rock and The adjacent Dome of the Chain*
the Dome of the Rock and The adjacent Dome of the Chain*

The dome is based on four stone pillars and twelve marble-clad columns … each pillar is interspersed with three marble columns, all of which form the central circle that surrounds the rock in a manner consistent with its irregular shape … as in the picture.

4. Al-Qibli Mosque

The Al-Qibli Mosque is the main prayer hall in which the worshipers gather in the Al-Aqsa Mosque behind the Imam in the congregational prayers.

Al-Quebli Mosque Internal portico(left) and maim gate (right)
Al-Quebli Mosque Internal portico(left) and maim gate (right)

Many additions have been made since erection on 636 AD until the current building reached to 80 meters long and 55 wide and 11 doors; the main one overlooks Al-Aqsa square.

In the middle of its interior a large portico surrounded by three galleries, ending with a high dome made of wood painted with lead … it is the one seen from the outside, and known as the lead dome.


So the Dome of the Rock is part of the blessed Al-Aqsa and is located inside its wall. If some people may see the Dome as the entire holy sanctuary due to its good architecture and beauty of appearance, this does not excuse Muslims from error ; as how can one not learn all what he should know about his first qiblah and third holy mosque, that God has blessed for ever


Books about Al-Aqsa:

* The Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza

Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza (Islamic Art in the Mediterranean) 

the book explores a period during the reigns of the Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman dynasties, when numerous pilgrims and scholars from all quarters of the Muslim world came to Palestine. The great dynasties commissioned architectural and artistic masterpieces in the most important religious centers, encouraged the spread of a rarefied art that still fascinates today.

Paperback – Illustrated, July 24, 2014
Paperback – Illustrated, July 24, 2014

Bayt al-Maqdis, Part 1

Abd al-Malik’s Jerusalem

(Oxford Studies in Islamic Art)

At the end of the seventh century A.D., the Muslims rebuilt the former Temple Mount and created one of the most potent religious sites in the world. Its most famous building, the Dome of the Rock, is the earliest surviving Muslim religious structure and one of the glories of Islamic architecture. The articles in this volume look at different aspects of the architecture, and the intentions of the builders in establishing this complex.

The Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock Hardcover

Presents photographs and accompanying text showcasing the panorama and decorative details of the most visited shrine in Islam

Dome of the Rock Hardcover
Dome of the Rock Hardcover

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The blogger is an architect; a master’s degree holder in international construction, interested in Architecture, civilization and cultures

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