Haram esh-Sharif or Temple Mount in East Jerusalem

Friday, 3 September 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  5 minutes

© Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

Known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif (“the Noble Sanctuary”, or “the Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem”) and the Al Aqsa Compound, and to Jews as Temple Mount (“Mount of the House [of God, i.e. the Temple in Jerusalem]”), is a hill in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Christianity, Islam and Islam, and Judaism alike.

The present site is a flat plaza surrounded by retaining walls (including the Western Wall) that was built during the reign of Herod the Great for an expansion of the temple. The plaza is dominated by three monumental structures from the early Umayyad period – the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain – and four minarets. Herodian walls and gates, with additions from the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods, cut through the flanks of the Mount. Currently, it can be reached through eleven gates, ten reserved for Muslims and one for non-Muslims, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each.

According to Jewish tradition and scripture, the First Temple was built by King Solomon, the son of King David, in 957 BCE, and was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE; however, no substantial archaeological evidence has verified this. The Second Temple was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE, and was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. Orthodox Jewish tradition maintains it is here that the third and final Temple will be built when the Messiah comes. The location is the holiest site in Judaism, and is the place Jews turn towards during 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, there is still some aspect of the divine presence at the site.

© Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0 Al-Aqsa Mosque © Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0 Dome of the Rock © Simchu0000/cc-by-sa-3.0 Dome of the Rock © Victorgrigas/cc-by-sa-3.0 Inside the Dome of the Rock © Virtutepetens/cc-by-sa-4.0 Southwest qanatir (arches) of the Haram al Sharif © Wilson44691
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Southwest qanatir (arches) of the Haram al Sharif © Wilson44691
Among Muslims, the Mount is the site of one of the three Sacred Mosques, the holiest sites in Islam. Amongst Sunni Muslims, it is considered the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary, the location of Muhammad‘s journey to Jerusalem and ascension to heaven, the site is also associated with the Jewish biblical prophets who are also venerated in Islam. Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Holy Temple previously stood.

In light of the dual claims of 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 through the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. 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. Regardless of the rival perspectives and claims, the Temple Mount is the third most important shrine in Islam and the most important shrine in Judaism. For most parts of Christianity it is of secondary religious importance. The fascination for the Temple Mount here comes from the gilded dome of the Dome of the Rock.

Read more on Wikipedia Haram esh-Sharif (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.










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