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Middle East

Dome of the Rock

Photo by Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Dome of the Rock is located in The Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem and is a holy site for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Temple Mount is a flat plaza surrounded by retaining wall including the Western Wall which was built during the reign of Herod the Great.

This is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards for prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the divine presence is still present at the site.

According to Jewish tradition, the stone inside the temple is the site where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Muslims believe this is one the three holiest sites in their religion. They believe that this is the location where Muhammed ascended to Heaven.

In light of the dual claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site. The Temple Mount is within the Old City, which has been controlled by Israel since 1967. After the Six Day War, Israel handed administration of the site back to the Waqf under Jordanian custodianship, while maintaining Israeli security control. It remains a major focal point of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslims.

In order to reach the plaza and the Dome you must enter thru security gates. There are 11 gates into the area. Ten of the gates are reserved for Muslims and one gate for non-Muslims. We entered after waiting in line at the Non-Muslim gate. We walked around the complex but we were not allowed to enter the actual temple as non- Muslims.

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