Omayyad Mosque, Damascus
The Omayyed mosque ,build by Khalifa Al Walid, is reached by walking through the Humaidiya market, across the courtyard and then through a gate into the courtyard of the Mosque.
I had been outside on a previous visit but hadn't been into the courtyard. First you have to remove your shoes, and if not decently dressed you are given a cloak to cover your body. I always have a headscarf round my neck so had no problem.
Inside you see the two ablution fountains, and notice the arcades with green and gold mosaic .The facade too is of green and gold.
The brass doors at the entrance to the courtyard are impressive.
Inside the mosque buildings are some Shiite shrines, but we didn't go in. Nor did we have time to enter the mosque itself, though my husband had been previously.
It was worth going to see.
Inside the mosque is a small chapel and the Shrine of John the Baptist (Prophet Yahia to the Muslims) where tradition holds that the head of John is buried. One legend says that when the church was demolished, his head was found underneath, complete with skin and hair.
The prayer hall consists of three aisles, supported by Corinthian columns.
There is a lot to see inside the mosque. Remember that it is actively used for worship, and this should be respected.
The Mosque has three minarets. The minarets date from the time of al-Walid with some reconstruction around 1340 and 1488.
The minaret in the southeast corner is called the Minaret of Jesus as many Muslims believe that it is here that Jesus will appear at the End of the World (judgment day).
The minaret of the bride is on the northern side and is the oldest of the three minarets.
The minaret on the southwest corner is called Al-Gharbiyya minaret.
When entering the mosque, you will be welcomed by a huge courtyard. The atmosphere is lively, with kids running around, groups of people sitting around etc.
Most striking for me was the beautiful green and gold mosaics and the shining white floor.
There are also three domes in the courtyard; Al-Mal (Dome of the Treasury), Al-Saát (clocks) dome, and a dome over the fountain in the centre of the courtyard.
The dome of the Treasury has beautiful green and gold mosaics.
There are only three doors in use.
The mosque is part of the core of the old city of Damascus. It is a place you have to visit. The present mosque was built by Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid from 708-715 and is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world.
There are different entrances, of which some are reserved for Muslims. It is important to respect this.
There is a ticket office, (Bab-Al-Amara) which is the same place where you can hire clothing if you are not appropriately dressed. (No shorts, no bare shoulders, no short dresses and in the case of women, your head should be covered).
Take your shoes off BEFORE entering the mosque.
Entrance is SYP 50
There are no problems with taking photographs.
Not long after the Romans conquered Damascus in the 1st century BC, they built the Temple of Jupiter on the site of the Semitic Temple of Haddad, a god equated with Zeus and Jupiter. This enormous temple extended from the entrance of Souk al-Hamidiyya to the Roman Temple Gate to the east of the Mosque, while the large area occupied by the Omayyad Mosque merely formed the temenos (sacred enclosure) of the temple. Remains of this temple are still standing, while other parts were incorporated in the construction of the mosque and previously the Church of St John the Baptist. The most prominent standing structure is the temple's Propylaeum at the entrance of the Souk, which was the Western Temple Gate through the outer enclosure. Part of the walls of the temenos remain intact as the eastern and southern walls of the mosque, and the main entrance to the temenos can be seen along the southern wall. It was walled up during the construction of the mosque and used as the mihrab (prayer niche) within the mosque. The Corinthian columns in the mosque's courtyard and interior are also recycled Roman columns. In addition, Byzantine-period arches were built in the 4th century on recycled Roman columns and are still standing next to the Propylaeum as well as at the north entrance of the mosque (see photos).
The Great Mosque was built in the 8th-century Great Mosque by the Umayyad Caliph Walid I, on the site of a Catholic church. The out walls belonged to the Roman temple of Jupiter, on the site of an Aramaean temple.
The Umayyad Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world. Its dimensions are 157 x 97 m. There are four gates, a dome and three minarets.
In the great courtyard we can see the Dome of the Treasury, standing on 8 columns and covered by mosaics. Looking at the northern arcade we see the Minaret of the Bride. The opposite arcade is covered with mosaics that depict paradise.
The prayer hall consists of three aisles, supported by columns in the Corinthian order.
It is thought that the mosque had the largest golden mosaic in the world. In 1893 a fire damaged the mosque and many mosaics were lost.
There is a shrine containing the body of St. John the Baptist. Also the head of Husayn ibn Ali, Mohamed’s grandson, is kept in this mosque.
The mausoleum of Saladin is in the mosque’s gardens.
Year 8.cc. It is one of the best mosque I have ever seen. It was pagan temple first, than church and now mosque. Magnificent mosaics, stones, glasses etc. Unfortunately fires killed most of those mosaics! Islamic St.Yahya and St.Huseyin's heads are in this mosque...
Unfortunately women must wear black huge covers if they keep their hairs and some other parts!
The Umayyad mosques is one of the largest mosques in the world and very interesting to visit.
It´s located in the old part of Damascus and that gives it a very nice historic setting.
It used to be both the site of a roman temple, but since islam became the most popular religion in the area in the 7th century it has been a mosque.
It was for a short while both a christian church and a muslim mosque in the 7th century, but a compromise was made whereby it became a muslim place, while the christians got a large chuck of land nearby to build a christian church.
The Umayyad Mosque is the most important mosque in the country. It stands on the site of a 3,000-year-old Aramaean temple, referred to in the Old Testament. It later became the Roman Temple of Jupiter and then a Christian church. When the Muslims entered Damascus in 636 AD, they converted it into a mosque. Most of the current building was constructed in the 8th century under the Umayyad Caliph Khalid ibn al-Walid. At the heart of it is a beautiful courtyard in which are three domed structures: the Dome of the Treasury, the Dome of the Clocks and the Ablutions Fountain. The mosque has three towering minarets: the Minaret of the Bride, the Minaret of Jesus and the Al-Gharbiyya Minaret.
Three of the most important shrines in the Middle East are here. They are the shrines of Hussein, St. John the Baptist and Saladin.
The Omayyad Mosque (الجامع الأموي) in Damascus is the most magnificent and fascinating structure in the city. It is one of the oldest in Islam and considered by many to be the most beautiful. It was built in the early 8th century during Omayyad rule to replace the Basilica of St John the Baptist, which had replaced the Roman Temple of Jupiter, which in turn had also replaced the Semitic/Aramean Temple of Haddad. Subsequent empires made their architectural additions, particularly after severe earthquake or fire damage. In every reconstruction, much of the existing building material and plan were reused to finally create a mosque space that has strong architectural elements from its pagan and Christian pasts. Much could be written about the architectural marvel and the magical and serene atmosphere of its courtyard and interior, yet nothing could come close to describing the experience of visiting this mosque. When in Damascus, a visit to the mosque must be your first stop, and it must be repeated more than once at different times of the day, for the space changes along with the movement of the sun and the influx of people as the day progresses. For more photos, click on my travelogue The Omayyad Mosque
In Roman times, a second monumental propylaeum stood on the eastern side of the temenos of the Temple of Jupiter. The Propylaeum towered above a staircase, adding to its grandeur. While the stairs leading up to the propylaeum remain, only the sides of the once impressive portal have survived. They form extensions to the gate now known as Bab Jairun leading into the Omayyad Mosque. The remains of the propylaeum preserve an arch and capitals of Corinthian columns. The walk east from the bottom of the staircase leads to the remains of another Roman monumental gate that marked the eastern entrance into the outer enclosure of the Temple of Jupiter.
The splendour of the original mosaics of the Omayyad Mosque has never been matched in human history. In the mosque's original form, these golden, blue and green mosaics covered the façades and arcades of the entire massive courtyard and parts of the interior, the largest mosaic work ever achieved. The images of rivers and lush greenery are said to have been drawn from the Ghouta oasis near Damascus and represent Paradise. Time has taken its toll on most of the original mosaics, much of which perished in earthquakes, fires and human destruction, but what remains is nevertheless impressive. Some of the original mosaics from the 8th century can still be seen, while the rest are works of restoration made in various periods dating from the 13th to the 20th centuries.
It is believed that the prayer hall of the Umayyad Mosque follows the plan of the pre-exisiting Christian Basilica. It is, like all prayer halls, covered with carpets and has a minbar (pulpit) on one side.
One interpretation of the mosaics at the Umayyad Mosque is that they show scenes from the Barada river valley; another is that they are visions of Paradise. They are predominantly green and gold and show trees and riverside houses. The most extensive section is on the transept below the Dome of the Eagle. The clearest and brightest mosaics, however, are on the Dome of the Treasury.