History of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Following the Muslim’s conquest of Jerusalem in 638 AD, the Muslims developed a belief that the former Jewish Temple Mount is also where Muhammad ascended to heaven. The iconic Dome of the Rock was designed to commemorate Solomon’s Temple and Mohamad’s night Journey. The Al Aqsa Mosque was built next to it and completed in 705 AD. Its name, Al-Aqsa (in Arabic – The farthest”), refers to the location of Mohamad’s night Journey according to the Quran. Unlike the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa fell into ruins several times due to earthquakes. Furthermore, in the time of the Crusaders, it was converted to the headquarters of the Templars order and was named “Solomon’s Temple.” After the expulsion of the Crusaders, the building reverted to a mosque, a status kept to this day.
In the 20th century, the Al-Aqsa mosque became the symbol of the local Arab national movement. The second Palestinian uprising, in September 2000, was called “The Al-Aqsa Intifada”.
Visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque
Since the year 2000 AD, entry to the Al-Aqsa mosque has been forbidden for non-Muslims. Nevertheless, it is still possible to appreciate its size and façade. Its frontal decorations still bear a few architectural elements from the time of the Crusaders. Furthermore, the courtyard west of the mosque displays many additional architectural elements, primarily capitals from Christian times.
A visit to the Temple Mount can be integrated into a Day tour of Jerusalem.