Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews and the third holiest site for Muslims. Considering this background, it is also one of the most sensitive places, both religiously and politically, and one of the most fascinating places to visit in Jerusalem.
Almost every tourist who arrives in Jerusalem for the first time opens his/her visit with one of the observation points from which the Old City can be seen, including the striking view of the square of Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock at its center.
The construction of the Dome, initiated by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, was completed in 691 CE. The building was reconstructed many times during the following centuries and the dome was plated in gold leaf and afterwards covered with tiles. The latest refurbishment was completed in 1993 when Jordanian King Hussein II sold one of his homes in London in order to help finance the purchase of 80 kilograms of gold which were required to re-cover the dome in gold leaf.
According to Jewish law, Temple Mount is still a holy place and it is forbidden for Jews to enter. However, there are those who permit entry and even view a visit as a Jewish precept, but only in the peripheral area and not in the center, where the Temple was formerly situated.
A visitor to the Dome of the Rock will enjoy the magnificent decorations on its walls and ceilings, ornamented with mosaics, faience and marble. Its octagonal shape is apparently what has enabled it to survive the ravages of time including the strong earthquakes which have shaken the area.