The Temple Mount is one of the holiest sites in the world and no visit to Jerusalem would be complete without seeing it. While entrance is free, visiting hours are limited, and there are frequently long lineups, so plan ahead!
What to see?
The area of the Temple Mount spreads across 140 acres with the Dome of the Rock positioned roughly in its center. Dome of the Rock, or known in Arabic as the ‘Qubbat al-Ṣakhrah’, was built by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān in the late 7th century CE. According to the Muslim faith, the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, ascended into heaven from this site. From an architectural perspective the Dome of the Rock models the rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre. But as opposed to the Holy Sepulchure which has a dark interior, the Dome of the Rock is adorned with bright confections of mosaics and decorated verses from the Quran.
At the center of the Dome of the Rock is the Foundation Stone. The Jewish faith maintains that from this stone the world started, Adam (the first man) was created, Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac and other fundamental events took place.
Only Muslims can enter the temple, but non-Muslims can get a good view of it when they walk around the plaza.
In close proximity is the silver domed, Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad was transported from the scared Mosque in Mecca (the holiest city in Islam) to Al-Aqsa during the Night Journey. It is also believed that the Prophet Muhammad led prayers facing towards the mosque until the 17th month after his migration from Mecca to Medina, when Allah instructed him to turn towards the Kaaba in Mecca.
Another attraction is Solomon’s stables. The name was given by the Crusaders who seized the Temple Mount from the Muslims in the 11 century CE. They assumed that the rooms were used by King Solomon as stables, and used the space themselves as stables. In actual fact, the structure dates back to Herod’s time in the 1st century BCE. Herod created the space in order to raise and expand the platform of the Temple Mount and to rebuilt the Jewish temple on top of it. After the fall of the crusaders the Stables lay dormant until 1996 when the Waqf, the Islamic trust that controls the Temple Mount, converted it into a massive underground mosque.
Walking around the Temple Mount is a true contrast to the bustling city of Jerusalem. Today the area is the largest public space in East Jerusalem and aside from praying, it is a place where children come to play and adults come to unwind.
Where to go:
Non-Muslim visitors may enter the Temple Mount through the Mughrabi Ramp located near the Western Wall. The ramp leads visitors to the Mughrabi gate and from there into the Temple Mount.
Please note the following tips:
- Since the queues are frequently very long, especially during peak season and holidays, it is recommended to arrive early and be prepared to wait.
- You will need your passport in order to enter the Temple Mount.
- Do not bring a weapon or anything that looks like a weapon.
- Dress modestly. The Temple Mount is a holy site. Men are required to wear long pants below the knee or cover up with a shawl. Women must cover their shoulders and need to wear long pants or a long skirt (they are not obligated to cover their hair). If you are uncovered you may be approached by a local lady and requested to buy a shawl.
- No Christian or Jewish artifacts are allowed. If you have a cross necklace or a Jewish prayer book, leave them at the hotel.
- Do not take pictures of security guards.
When to go?
Visitor hours (Monday-Thursday):
- Winter: 7:00 am – 10:30 am and 12:30pm – 13:30 pm
- Summer: 7:30am – 11:00am and 13:30pm – 14:30pm.
- The site is closed for visitors on Fridays and Saturdays.
Note: Due to security reasons, the site can be closed to visitors without any prior warning.
Enjoy your visit and let us know how it was!