Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
The last of the three great shrines of Islam is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is the crowning jewel of the Aqsa Mosque (a.k.a. the Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary) in Jerusalem and a masterpiece of world architecture. Like the Taj Mahal in India and the Alhambra in Spain, it is a celebrated example of Muslim art. The Dome of the Rock was built in 680 - 692 A.D./C.E. and thus has the special distinction of being chronologically the first monument of the Muslim civilization. The structure is lavishly faced in brilliantly colored ceramic tiles and is surmounted by a massive golden dome which has just been completely restored.
The Dome of the Rock was built by Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, seven years after he was proclaimed the seventh caliph of the Muslim civilization. His family became known as the Umayyad Dynasty. They were centered in Damascus and ruled the region for 110 years, from Casablanca to Khurasan. Like the Medicis in Florence some seven hundred years later, the Umayyads were great sponsors of art and contemporary craft.
Tradition says that this is the same rock used in the sacrifice of Abraham. And later tradition says that this same rock was the point from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven on the mystic Mount Buraq. This ascension is called "mi'raj".
The Dome of the Rock is a very unique masterpiece of Muslim art