The Dome of the Rock, a significant and recognizable octagonal Muslim structure perched atop the Temple Mount platform, profoundly symbolizes Jerusalem's rich religious history. The golden dome shelters an influential rock that has sparked fascination and reverence across different faiths for centuries.
In Jewish tradition, this rock is known as the "Foundation Stone" - believed to be the starting point of creation, the axis mundi or the world's navel. The rock carries significant religious implications as it's considered to mark the exact location of the Holy of Holies within Solomon's Temple and, subsequently, the Second Temple. Despite the destruction of the Temple, the memory of this sacred stone endured, and a wealth of traditions grew from it, cementing its place in Jewish cultural and religious memory.
After capturing Jerusalem and restoring the ruined Temple Mount, Muslims constructed an octagonal, grand stone edifice over the Foundation Stone. The design and details of this structure, which came to be known as the Dome of the Rock, commemorate the sanctity of the rock. According to Islamic belief, the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from this spot, adding another layer to its spiritual significance.
The Crusaders, who saw the rock as sacred, constructed an altar atop it embellished with a pair of candelabras. Today, although the actual Foundation Stone cannot be viewed, visitors to the archaeological park can appreciate representations and echoes of its history and significance.
The Foundation Stone, echoing back to the days of Genesis, symbolizes the intersection between heaven and earth, and the connection between humankind and their God, from the perspective of believers. This compelling history and holy confluence make the Foundation Stone and its symbol, the Dome of the Rock, a captivating part of Jerusalem's archaeological and spiritual landscape.