Great Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, Syria

Great Umayyad Mosque

Great Umayyad Mosque is a very old and important mosque located in Damascus, Syria. Mainly, This mosque used to do Islamic prayers and is more than just a tourist spot. During the time of the Umayyad Caliphate, Umayyad Mosque was established in the 8th century with the name of the Muslim Caliphate.
Now, the mosque itself is like a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. A big courtyard with shiny marble floors and a fountain in the middle. Then there’s the prayer hall, which is like a grand hall with lots of tall pillars and colorful tiles. It’s really beautiful!

The mosque is really special to both Christians and Muslims because of its history and religious stories. a belief since a long time ago, that John the Baptist’s head is buried there. Also, inside the mosque, there are shrines to remember important people like Husayn ibn Ali, who was the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. His story is kind of like John the Baptist’s and Jesus’, so people remember him there too.

Umayyad Mosque Highlights

Establishment Date: between 705 and 715 ce
Establishment By: Umayyad Caliph al-Walīd I
Materials: Stone, mosaic, marble and tiles
Architectural styles: Islamic architecture
Visit Timing: Open at 11:00 am to 09:00 pm 
Location: Damascus, Syri

People have been using this place as a place to worship for a really, really long time. Back in the Iron Age, the Arameans built a temple there for their god of rain, Hadad. Then, when the Romans took over, they changed it into a big temple for Jupiter, their rain god. It was one of the biggest temples in Syria! Later, when the Christians were in charge, Emperor Theodosius I changed it into a cathedral and the second most important bishop in the area started working there.

Inside the mosque, there is a special place called the Shrine of John the Baptist. According to Islamic tradition, this is where the head of John the Baptist is buried. People come from all over to visit this shrine and pay their respects. After the Muslims took over Damascus in 634, they turned territory of the cathedral into a small prayer place for themselves. Later, the Umayyad caliph al-Walid I decided to take over the remains of the cathedral for Muslims to use. He gave back other properties to the Christians in the city as settlements.

The cathedral was mostly destroyed, and a big mosque was built in its position. It took nine years to build and many people from different places helped. The money to build it came from the things the Umayyads got in wars and from taxes.

This mosque was different from others at the time. It had three big parts inside and a special place called a mihrab for prayers. It was really fancy, with lots of marble and gold mosaics covering a huge area.

Great Umayyad Mosque was built with amazing features like the Dome of the Treasury and a tall tower called the Minaret of the Bride. Great Umayyad Mosque was inspired by other mosques in different places, like the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain and the al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt. Another important feature of the Umayyad Mosque is the minaret, which is a tall tower where the call to prayer is made. The minaret of the Umayyad Mosque is very old and has a unique shape, with a square base and a spiral staircase leading to the top.

Even though the mosque has changed a bit over time because of fires, wars, and repairs, it still looks a lot like it did when it was first built in the 8th century. It’s one of the few Islamic mosques that has kept its original style from the Umayyad period.

Throughout its history, the Umayyad Mosque has been damaged and rebuilt many times due to wars and earthquakes. But it has always remained a place of worship and a symbol of the strength and resilience of the Muslim community in Damascus.

Today, the Umayyad Mosque continues to be an important religious and cultural landmark, attracting visitors and worshippers from all over the world. It’s a place where people can come together to pray, learn, and connect with the rich history of Islam.

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