Holy to both Muslims and Jews, the Temple Mount (or Haram ash-Sharif in Arabic) is the most remarkable well-known symbol of Jerusalem, and the most controversial either. For Jews it is the ancient Mount Moriah, where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac, and where the First and Second Temples were built. For Muslims it is their third holiest shrine, as said to be the site from where Muhammad have ascended to heaven on his Night Journey.
Visible from almost anywhere around the Old City, the Temple Mount is a wide area with the Dome of the Rock in its center and the El-Aqsa Mosque at its southern edge.
The Dome of the Rock:
Glowing with its magnificent golden dome, and holding the sacred rock upon Isaac was almost sacrificed and from which Muhammad rose to heaven, the Dome of the Rock was built by Caliph Abd el-Malik in 691 AD, as part of the Muslims attempt to demonstrate their ascendance over Christianity.
Traditionally known as the center of the world, the sacred rock inside shows the legendary mark of Muhammad’s footprint.
Built by the son of Abd el-Malik, Caliph Walid, in the early 8th century, the El-Aqsa Mosque, with its silver-black dome, is far less glorious than the Dome of the Rock, but it serves as the actual place of worship for Muslim pilgrimages coming to the Temple Mount. Its name means “the farthest”, referring to the farthest point that was reached by Muhammad on his Night Journey.
Entering the Temple Mount is through a gate called Mughrabi Gate, reached from the Western Wall area. Visitors should remember to be appropriately dressed (i.e. with no bare body parts), and to be prepared to sometimes a long queue at the security checking point.
Visiting hours are Saturday to Thursday from 7:30am to 11:00am, and from 1:30pm to 2:30pm. The site is closed on Friday. (Notice that these times can be changed as they are based on Muslim prayer times).