Omayyad Mosque, Damascus
The great Omayyad mosque of Damascus is is a building that inspires awe and wonder. Set within walls parts of which date back to a Roman temple, it sits on ground that has been considered holy for millenia. Although essentially a Sunni mosque it contains shrines of the utmost importance to Shiia (it is said to contain the head of the martyr, Hussein) and to Christians (another head, this time of John the Baptist). So here, across the flawless white marble courtyard where no shoe treads and under the cool arcades whose mosaics were first laid by Greek artisans from Constantinople in the 8th Century, you will see believers of all three persuasions making their way to the part of the mosque that means most to them.
The Prayer Hall of the Great Mosque is vast, a great, simple space full of light and colour. Stained glass windows high up in the walls spill red and blue, yellow and green light onto the carpets that cover the floor. The interior is essentialy a 19thC Ottoman structure but remnants of the original mosque remain in the windows at both ends and some lovely wood panelling in the ceiling. The domed shrine marks the supposed burial place of John the Baptist.
Take some time to sit quietly on the floor and contemplate this magnificent building and reflect on the history of this most holy place.
The Mausoleum of Saladin, great Kurdish leader of the Saracens, is situated in a small garden beside the Great Mosque. Inside the simple building, with its melon-ribbed dome, you will find two tombs - the original simple wooden tomb in which the great warrior was laid, now enclosed in a glass case, and an ornate white marble edifice, the gift of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in the late 19th Century, to replace the original which had deteriorated badly by then. As Saladin himself was reputed to be, the mausoleum is dignified and unostentatious.., and Saladin still lies in his old wooden tomb, the florid gift of a foreign king would never have been his style.
To the left of the main entrance of the Omayyad Mosque, like a little jewelled box glowing with exquisite mosaics, the structure known as the Dome of the Treasury sits atop 8 columns with Corinthian capitals. It dates to about 790AD though the columns are much older Roman work and the mosaics are thought to have been restored in the 13th Century.
The constant stream of chador-clad women and soberly-dressed men you see heading across the courtyard of the Great Mosque are Iranian pilgrims, come to visit one of the most important Shiite shrines - that of Hussein, the Shia's Third Imam, grandson of the Prophet, the Martyr of Kerbala. They have come to pray at the shrine which is said to contain his head - the locus of which is the heavily-embossed silver plaque on the wall of the inner room.
Non-Muslims, men and women, may enter the shrine.
The Umayyad Mosque is one of the most important Islamic buildings. It’s built on the place where there was a temple built already 900 BC. Later a church was built there and after the Muslims came a mosque was built, first just a smaller one but then a grand impressive mosque was built. Much has been destroyed during the years and much of what you see today is rebuilt after a big fire 1893.
There is a special tourist entrance where you pay and where women get a brown robe to wear. Next to the entrance is the mausoleum of Salah ad-Din (1138-93, fought against the crusaders).
This mosque goes back almost 3000 years..It is mentioned in the Old Testament (When the aramaens built a temple to Hadad, one of their gods). Inside is a shrine to St. John where they say he is buried. This mosque is very impressive in its size and beautiful design...
The courtyard is big and in one way made me think of Piazza San Marco in Venice. There are quite a lot of pigeons. Around the courtyard people are sitting eating or just relaxing. It is a peaceful place. There is a big beautiful gold mosaic on one of the walls.
Beside the courtyard is the shrine of Husseini. Another shrine, the one of John the Baptist, is in the big prayer hall.
Before it was turned into the Umayyad Mosque in the 7th century, this was the site of the 4th century Byzantine Church of St. John the Baptist. Today, the head of John the Baptist is enshrined, beneath a dome, in a marble mausoleum. This is reputedly the same head that was served to Salome on a platter, although other places, including Aleppo and even Halifax in England, also claim to have it.
John the Baptist was born in Judaea in 5 BC and beheaded by order of King Herod around 33 AD, after the 14-y-o Salome had demanded his head on a platter. John's role, according to the Bible, was to announce the coming of Jesus and he was the man who baptized Jesus in the River Jordan. He is venerated by Muslims as the prophet Yahya and is mentioned in the Quran.
Al-Gharbiyya minaret is the minaret in the south-west corner of the Umayyad Mosque (in the picture). The other two minarets of the mosque are the Minaret of the Bride and Minaret of Jesus. They all date back 1300 years but have been restored during the years.
Omayyad Mosque is just beautiful! This is huge mosque in the old part of Damascus. It's not difficult to find the place. If you'll enter old city from the Hamidia Souk entrance you'll just face the mosque as soon as you get out of the market.
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 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 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.
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.