The Minaret of the Bride is square and thus contrasts with the Ottoman-style minarets common in the city and with the octagonal Egyptian-style Western Minaret. It was the first one built, although its exact date of construction and the originator of its design are still unknown. It is believed to have been constructed in the 9th or 10th century. It takes its name from the daughter of the iron-merchant who provided the lead for the roof and whose gave his daughter to be wed to the city's ruler. It has a variety of alteration in its style as the tower ascends, from rough blocks to dressed ones, and this goes up to the smaller spire with its lead roof.
This particular minaret is not the most treasured of the minarets of the mosque, but it is the first one visible when you arrive from the Hamidiya Souq. It was erected at the end of the 15th century, under Mamluk rule, after Timur sacked the city and destroyed one of the Mosque's minarets. Its thick body and octagonal shape contrast with the square shapes of the Minaret of the Bride and the Minaret of Jesus. It is very much reliant on Egyptian principles of design for its characteristics, and thus adds to various layers of influence that have produced the eclectic nature of the mosque's synthesis.
The Dome of the Clock is not quite as famous as its sister Dome, that of the Treasury, although it was built a couple of decades before the latter. It is a very simple affair that stands on its columns and is a slate grey construction, not nearly as ornate as the Dome of the Treasury. Nevertheless, it adds to the eclectic nature of design and decoration in the Umayyad Complex.
The Umayyad Mosque can feel a bit like a hodge-podge of styles and eras, and part of that impression is the product of the two Domes that are found in its courtyard: the Dome of the Clock and the Dome of the Treasury (Qubbat as-Sa3at wa Qubbat al-Khuzna). The Dome of the Treasury was built at the end of the eighth century on the order of the Governor of Damascus, and was intended to house the Mosque's endowment and most treasured items, including many manuscripts in the various liturgical languages of the Middle East. These items have largely remained out of view, but what is on view is exquisite. The outside of the dome is covered in the same mosaic that once covered the entire mosque, and which makes it look like a large, colourful stone tapestry. It sits atop eight Roman columns, which makes it seem more like a water tower than a reliquiry.
The Umayyad Mosque is without doubt, an awe-inspiring architectural wonder. One aspect of Damascus’ long history as an urban centre that is highlighted by the mosque is that sites in the old city have been repurposed several times since their initial founding. The mosque was first built as a temple for an Aramaean god prior to the arrival of the Romans in the first century CE. It then was associated with Jupiter and was continually expanded by the Romans until it was converted into the Cathedral of St. John in the 390s. It acquired further fame in the seventh century, when it was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and was rumoured to contain the head of the saint. Most of the structure was destroyed in the 7th century when the Umayyad dynasty came to power and had the current mosque erected. When the Umayyads fell and were replaced by the Abbasids, these latter rulers added the Domes in the courtyard and a massive clock, as well as the northern minaret. As successive dynasties and empires – Seljuk, Mameluk, Mongol, Ottoman, French – took control of the city of Damascus, they invested in the upkeep of the mosque and, especially under the Mameluks and Seljuks – its expansion and embellishment, not least because of the damage brought upon it by successive wars and fighting. Today the mosque can only be described as an eclectic example of Muslim architecture, having been built and rebuilt by so many rulers from across the Mediterranean and the Muslim world. It is truly massive, and its size – and the size of its art work – is sure to humble any visitor, regardless of his or her religion.
***A Mosque with its faces of religion.
In the early times this building was used as a Temple of Jupiter during the Roman Empire. After the fourth century turned into a church. The western side of the older Temple was an extension made to make a Cathedral of St, John the Baptist.
During the Islamic revolution, a leader Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya Ibn Abi Sufyan, ruled Damascus, the church was occupied by both Christians and Muslims. The Muslims prayed on the eastern side of the old Temple and the Christian on the western side where the Cathedral was erected. Because of lack of space and to have an own architectural representation for the new Islamic religion in this City the Muslims negotiated with the Christian leaders to occupy the complete Temple with a promise that other Christian churches around Damascus are protected and safe in all means. Presently being turned into a Mosque, there is still a part within the inner premises of the mosque a sacred place which contain the head of St. John the Baptist which was supposedly found during the excavations for the building of the mosque. This shrine of St John is respected and worshipped not only by Christian believers but also by Muslims and honored him as a Prophet.
Even Pope John Paul II came to visit for the first time a Mosque to honor the relics of St. John the Baptist.
In a small garden on the northern side of the Mosque is the mausoleum of Sultan Saladin, a Kurdish Muslim honored by Richard the Lionheart because of his struggle against the crusaders gained his great reputation as chivalrous knight and no doubt to be the greatest and most powerful leader in the Islamic world.
Don´t leave Damascus without paying attention to this biggest Mosque because it is really worth a visit. Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest great Islamic architectural structure ever made after Mecca that is also considered as one of the oldest mosque in the World.
Just in the middle of the courtyard - actually a bit on the side, one of the things that will immediately catch your attention is that tank-looking thing with shiny elborately designed gold and green mosaic and elevated from the ground by 8 columns. That is called the Dome of the Treasury.
The other dome opposite it at the far end of the courtyard, similarly with 8 columns that looks like an umbrella is the Dome of the Clocks.
A larger expanse of mosaic also remains on the western arcade wall. Stretching some 37m in length, and executed in shades of green and lime on a background of gold, the mosaic depicts fairytale-like towers, domes and forests. This is the largely greenish design on the facade of the largest portion of the building. I was actually thinking that it must have been originally a christian building maybe because of the architectural design - but what do I know.
Damascenes believe that the mosaic design is the Barada Valley and the paradise, the prophet Mohammed saw in Damascus.
The four sides of the rectangular courtyard seems to have its own interesting highlights.
Two-storey arched arcade can be found on the 3 sides of the courtyard. The fourth side is the front of the prayer hall, dominated by a central section covered with enchanting, shimmering, golden mosaics.
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