May 28, 2024

The Old City in Jerusalem Features Beautiful Ancient Stone Architecture From the Middle Ages

Alley in Old City of Jerusalem Alley in Old City of Jerusalem © Yeshaya Dinerstein |

The Old City in Jerusalem is a walled area within modern-day Jerusalem and holds immense religious gravity for Jews, Muslims and Christians. It’s divided into four quarters, with the Muslim quarter being the largest and most populous of them all. 


Some Architectural Attractions

Damascus Gate

The Damascus Gate is one of the most recognizable ancient architectural features of the walls in Jerusalem.  Although built in the Ottoman Empire around 1537 AD, it sits atop an earlier Roman era gate (see the area to the left and below the walkway in the above panorama), that dates back to the first century.  Note that when the Romans destroyed most of Jerusalem in 70 AD and drove the Jews out of Jerusalem, they evidently spared this wall.  According to tradition, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, was able to escape Jerusalem in a coffin and attempt negotiations with Vespasian, who agreed to spare the western-most gates of the city.

Al Aqsa Mosque


The original mosque at this site was built by Caliph Umar bin Khattab. Later on, its renovation and expansion were initiated by Caliph Abd-Al Malik. The mosque fell prey to numerous earthquakes and was subsequently repaired after every one of them.


This mosque is the depiction of primeval Muslim architecture. The current mosque is a four-sided structure consisting of a dome, a porch, a fountain for performing “wudhu” and a stunning interior.

  • The dome currently has an outer covering of lead, like that of the original one. The internal aspect of the dome is adorned with 14th-century paintings that have been restored.
  • The façade of the building has an easily distinguishable Crusader touch in it and is made up of a number of stone arches.
  • The mosque has a splendid interior upheld by numerous pillars made of white marble and stone. A minbar of ivory and wood is also placed inside the mosque.
  • There’s a magnificent mountain in the mosque used by Muslims to perform their ritual “wudhu.”

Dome of the Rock

If you’ve ever seen an aerial view of Jerusalem, you will have noticed an eye-catching, golden, dome-shaped structure that stands out from the rest of the edifices. That is the Dome of the Rock.


The construction of the dome was initiated by Caliph Abd Al-Malik in the 7th century A.D. and was completed a few years later. Since then, it has been the victim of many earthquakes and has been subsequently reconstructed multiple times.


The root of the dome’s structure and mathematical alignment is similar to that of the Byzantine architectural style. However, it also consists a touch of primitive Islamic architecture. The whole structure consists of three parts, the dome, the drum beneath it, and the octagonal base. This dome has been an inspiration for the construction of many similar domes and is one of the top architecturally rich sites in Jerusalem!

  • The raised octagonal base exhibits beautifully inscribed Arabic verses from the Qur’an and colorful Turkish tiles on its external aspect. The internal aspect follows the shape of the external one and the internal area has the Sacred Rock in a circular enclosure. Prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven on the occasion of Shab-e-Miraj from this rock.

The mosaics in the internal aspect contain many images of jewelry and other such treasures.

  • Above the base is a drum once again adorned with Turkish tiles and Arabic inscription.
  • The dome itself is currently made of aluminum coated with gold leaf and has a full-moon protruding towards the sky from its apex.
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Last modified on Sunday, 01 July 2018 21:49
Nathan Gopen

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Nathan Gopen is a professional software engineer and MIT graduate. He is committed to using his skills in software, multimedia and graphic design to create inspiring and powerful new ways of comprehending and studying the vast riches of God's Word.

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