It was our free day today, and I finally got to go to the building I've been staring at in the distance for the last month: the Dome of the Rock. The golden dome is a Jerusalem landmark, and we can see it pretty well from here at the BYU Jerusalem Center. The Dome of the Rock is built in the area that Jews and Christians call the Temple Mount (it's called a mount because it's a platform that's higher than the rest of the city around it). Somewhere on this raised platform was where Solomon's Temple and the Temple of Herod stood. I would say that's a pretty historic location.
It's been a Muslim site since the mid-600s. I've learned that originally they built these buildings on the Temple Mount to show Jews that Islam replaced Judaism and Christianity as the true religion (they see Islam as a restoration movement that is sort of a continuation and correction of Judaism and Christianity). Eventually, it became a tradition that this was the site of Muhammad's vision of God and it became an even holier place for Muslims.
The two buildings on the platform are the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa. Dome of the Rock is a shrine. The rock inside is supposed to be where Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac (Ishmael if you're Muslim). The al-Aqsa mosque is the third-holiest in the Muslim world, after the ones in Mecca and Medina. All of my pictures in this post are of the Dome.
Non-Muslims aren't allowed to go inside either building because of the security situation right now. At other times (maybe even like 10 years ago?), anyone could go in. We had to content ourselves with taking awesome pictures outside of it.
The Ottomans added the pretty tiles. Love the colors!
So that's the beautiful Dome of the Rock. I've heard that usually you have to wait in a long line at security to get up on the Temple Mount, but we went early in the morning so there was no line and it wasn't crowded at all. They have modesty requirements to get up there. No one can wear shorts or tank tops. We saw them stop a girl who was wearing leggings. The BYU honor code office should hire these guys; they would love Utah culture!
Here's a view off the side of the Temple Mount.
Since we were so close to the Western Wall, we also stopped there again today.