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Jerusalem. People United in a Prayer
Dome of the Rock
Suleiman the Magnificent. 1552 AD
The Arab conquest of Jerusalem
opened the city to Islamic worship for good.
The building, which was to become the third most sacred place in Islam after Mecca and Medina, has a long tradition of giving Muslims a place worthy of the awe of the faithful. The dome was built on that very spot on Mount Moriah because, in the 7th century, people began to believe that Muhammad's mystical journey to Allah had begun there.
The dome, supported by four pillars indicating the four cardinal points, has an octagonal floor plan and contains the rock that has become an object of veneration for Muslims. Mistakenly called a 'mosque', it has undergone numerous embellishments and restorations over the centuries, remaining an illustrious example of sublimely crafted Byzantine art.
I contributed myself to the building's enchanting decorations, commissioning the application of marble and coloured majolica reproducing calligraphic, geometric and naturalistic motifs of the highest refinement, since, as we know, the Muslim religion forbids the reproduction of recognisable elements of the human body.
Long before my intervention, the dome became a desecrating meeting place for one of the most powerful and destructive orders of chivalry in history: the Templars, who transformed it into a church called Templum Domini during their crusades. Fortunately, it returned to the full sanctity of Muslim worship, which made it the centre of Islamic prayer in Jerusalem!
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