Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
The caliph Abdel Malek Ben Marwan built the honoured Rock Dome between 685-691 A.D., as a result of the stability witnessed by the Umayyad dynasty at that time and in order to gather all Muslims around it. The building was planned in such a way to be the focus of attention for all. In fact it is considered a masterpiece of islamic architecture throughout history. The diameter of the dome is 20.3 meters inside and its height is 20.48 meters.
The elegance and beauty of the Blessed Rock dome has bewildered all the scientists and researchers who have tried to study it, and who see in it a combination of architectural beauty and arabic art, with the influence of byzantine style. It is doubtless that Arab, Roman and Byzantine artisans have all participated in its construction, under the supervision of Rajae Ben Hayat Al Kindi, one of the Arab scientists and Yazid Ben Sallam from Al Qods.
In the construction of this dome a few philosophical considerations were made. Such considerations reside in the establishment of the general geographical situation of the city of Al Qods, and the particular geographical location in the yard of Al Haram Ash Sharif (Al Aqsaa mosque). It also resides in the direct location of the construction above the blessed dome, as were taken into consideration the artistic and technical requirements in the choice of the octagonal shape, and the central twin dome.
This used to be a current architectural style in Syria, especially the gates in the four directions, and the islamic writings which made one contemplate divine power and islamic wisdom, and the decorations of architectural and constructional mosaic designs (arabesques) which inspire ideal spiritual purity. This has left a big influence in the method of islamic arts as it is considered among the oldest decorative styles by the use of geometrical proportions in architectural planning and decoration. Such is the case in the internal ceiling. When one moves into the building of the blessed Rock dome from the outside hot air in the summer, one quickly feels the invigorating inside air, and the soft light which soothes ones psyche and nerves, and which comes from outside light in an indirect manner, and then one notices the ambient architectural neatness.
When one climbs over the outside roof, one sees Al Haram Ash Sharif below it as a magnificient structure within which the honoured Rock occupies the focal point. Undoubtedly, this building constitutes the epitome of beauty, coordination, harmony and architectural proportionality and neatness. This is what every visiting Arab or foreign historian, archaeologist or architect witnesses and expresses. In this context, Dr. Hartman stated that the Rock Dome is a model of coordination and harmony. Professor Hyter Lewis stated that the Rock Dome is the most beautiful building on earth, and that it is even the most beautiful monument celebrated by history.
In conclusion, the construction of the Rock dome constitutes the real image of the Arab Muslim personality in all its philosophical and artistic extents. When one speaks of the islamic architecture, this is the best example to illustrate it as it is full of artistic and architectural creativity.