The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is a site holy to the world’s three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is known by many names including Mount Zion, Mount Moriah, Har HaBayit (literally meaning the Temple Mountain in Hebrew), Haram Al-Sharif and Bait ul Muqaddas (meaning the Noble Sanctuary in Arabic).
For Muslims, the Temple Mount is the spot from which Muhammad ascended to heaven. It is the place at which Omar, Muhammad’s second successor prayed on Abraham’s rock. The al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock were built on top of the site in 692 CE. It is the third holiest site in the Islamic religion. The mosque faces Mecca.
According to the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Temple Mount is the site of many important Biblical events. God created Adam from dust taken from that spot. Abraham, the first of three Jewish forefathers, bound and almost sacrificed his son Isaac at this location. Both the First Temple built by King Solomon and the Second Temple built by King Zerubbabel rested on top of the Temple Mount; religious Jews believe that the Third Temple will also be constructed on this site. Religious Jews believe that within the Temple Mount lies the Holy of Holies, the room into which only the Jewish High Priest was permitted to enter to greet God – on only one occasion each year during Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement and holiest day of the Jewish calendar year). Rabbinical law states that Jews are forbidden to walk on the Temple Mount so as to not inadvertently step into this sacred space.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Temple Mount has been one of the most fought over sites in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli military won control over the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. Jerusalem Day has since celebrated the anniversary of that capture. Since 1967, the Temple Mount has remained under Israeli control, but management was turned over to the Muslim Waqf, who have been in charge of its operations since 1187. In the early 1990s, King Hussein of Jordan paid to cover the Dome of the Rock with gold sheets and renovate the internal structure to its former beauty.
Within the Temple Mount complex, visitors will see buildings from the Mameluke period, the Dome of the Rock, the Golden Gate, Solomon’s stables, Ablutions Fountain, as well as the tomb of Hashemite King Hussein and the spot at which his son, King Abdullah of Jordan, was later murdered.
The Temple Mount is open from Monday through Thursday, and Saturday from 8am until 11:30am. The Temple Mount site is closed to visitors on Friday and Sunday. Admission tickets are $6 per person. Non-Muslim visitors are banned from praying at the site; in case of rioting, the Israeli military will also occasionally close the site from Muslim prayers as well.