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Dome of the Rock: Architectural Style and History

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Architecture
Wordcount: 913 words Published: 18th May 2020

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For this assignment I decided to choose a shrine called the Dome of the Rock, which was built in Jerusalem. I chose this building because one of my friends went on her birthright trip to Jerusalem and I saw the pictures of this building from afar and I was fascinated. This building was built by Yazid Ibn Salam and Raja Ibn Haywah between 688 and 692 C.E. (Botchkareva). The Dome of the Rock was constructed during the time of the Umayyad Caliph Abd-al-Malik ruler and was one of the first structures for the Islamic people that was ever built. Raja Ibn Haywah was an architect best known for being responsible for the Dome of the Rock but he was also a “leading islaic jurist and arabic calligraphist from Baysan” (Raja Ibn Haywah). While Yazid Ibn Salam also was known for being the other architect behind this building, but since it was built thousands of years ago there’s limited information about both architects. This building is so incredible because both of these architects built this amazing structure with very limited resources and technology.

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The architectural styles include Islamic architecture and Umayyad architecture. The Dome represents Islamic architecture because it is sacred to their religion. Umayyad architecture was adapted from Byzantine architecture and the Dome of the Rock follows the patterns of what was seen in Byzantine churches because of their mosaic techniques (Botchkareva). The decoration throughout the inside and outside of the building represents styles from a large amount of different periods. Which included, “Mosaics, painted wood, marble, multi-colored tiles, carpets, and carved stone” (Dome of the Rock Architecture). All of these styles and detailed shapes and patterns “replace figurative art since according to Muslcim belief, it would be impossible to represent Allah in any figurative form” (Dome of the Rock Architecture).

This building was created at the highest point of Jerusalem around 14,000 years ago. This structure is one of the oldest Islamic buildings which is now considered a  monument and is also one of the most known buildings from that time period. Not only is the Dome of the Rock sacred for the Islamic people but is also a sacred place for Judaism. It was built around 55 years after the Arabs took over Jerusalem. Thousands of years ago the land that it was built on was surrounded by other religious structures but they were destroyed from riots. In the middle of the Dome there is a large rock that holds different symbolic stories. Where this building was built was known to be the place where Abraham was willing to sacrifice Ismail who was his son (Macaulay-Lewis). While today Muslims believe that the rock in the Dome shows a symbol of appreciation and respect for the journey of Muhammad (Macaulay-Lewis).

Some techniques they used to make this beautiful piece of architecture was the octagonal shape of the building as well as the many piers and columns surrounding the unique shape. To reinforce the foundation of the Dome there are eight piers and sixteen columns  on the outside of the building (Dome of the Rock). During the day, the Dome of the Rock is lit beautifully with the help of sixteen stained-glass windows. With sunlight pouring into the structure and the shadows of the pillars, arches and columns help magnify the area (Dome of the Rock).

Many other piece of architecture other then the Dome of the Rock, such as Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle, and the Taj Hotel in Mumbai shown in the video are all extremely detailed and ornate. They were built in a time of limited resources and technology. This would result in a time consuming and labor intensive jobs to complete all of these structures. Also within all of these designs the architects seem to concentrate on symmetry and balance when building these different structures. They all use heavy ornamentation to emphasize many outer domes and peaks on the outer structures. The attention to detail is a huge factor between the different types of styles and materials, many of the architects all focus on every small individual feature when constructing these great building. With the need for wonderful workmanship and the lack of technology that all these architects had, it is truly amazing what they all accomplished.


  • Botchkareva, Ana. “The Dome of the Rock.” Metmuseum.org, 22 June 2012,
    • www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2012/byzantium-and-islam/blog/where-in-the-world/posts/dome-of-the-rock.
  • “Dome of the Rock Architecture.” Dome of the Rock
    • domeoftherock.net/dome-of-the-rock-architecture/.
  • “Dome of the Rock.” Dome of the Rock,
    • www.webpages.uidaho.edu/arch499/nonwest/jerusalem/Dome.htm.
  • Macaulay-Lewis, Elizabeth. “The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat Al-Sakhra).” Khan Academy,
    • Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/west-and-central-asia/a/the-dome-of-the-rock-qubbat-al-sakhra.
  • “Raja Ibn Haywah.” Revolvy, www.revolvy.com/page/Raja-ibn-Haywah.


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