This is arguably Damascus’s most popular architectural attraction. It is a significant and sacred religious site for Muslims all over the globe. There are a number of stories and beliefs surrounding this architectural masterpiece. This mosque is magnificent from the limestone floors, to the gold mosaics depicting forests, domes and towers. Also located within it is a huge courtyard that houses the shrine of Hussein. Hussein is an important figure in Islamic history as he was the grandson of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and the son of the early Muslim convert, Ali, who later became a Caliph. He is especially important to the Shiite Muslims. He was killed by the Omayyads during the battle of Kerbala.
The mosque has three minarets; these were restored and renovated by the various ruling dynasties including the Ayubbids, Mamluks and the Ottomans. One of these is known as the ‘Minaret of Jesus’ as it is believed by Muslims that Jesus will reappear before the Day of Judgment, at this location. Another is known as the ‘Minaret of the Bride’, which is the oldest of the three. Thought to be the most beautiful, the third minaret is known as the ‘Minaret Al-Gharbiyya’. In the centre of the mosque, is an ancient fountain used by Muslims to perform the ritual ablution before prayers. Sitting atop it is a wooden pulpit. The prayer hall is rectangular with three aisles. After the great fire of the 1890’s it had to be reconstructed by the Ottomans. Within the prayer hall is the shrine of John the Baptist, an important figure in Christianity who is also well respected by the Muslims. Legend has it that when the mosque was being built in the 8th century, the head of John the Baptists contained in a casket was discovered beneath the foundations. The shrine is made of white marble and a green dome sits atop it.
This site was used for worship since 9 B.C; the Armenians had built a temple dedicated to their god Hadad. When the Romans invaded Damascus, the temple was used for the purpose of worshiping their god Jupiter. Constantine, emperor of the Byzantine Empire used it to worship Christ. When the Muslims invaded Damascus after 630 A.D, the site was used by both Muslim and Christian worshippers. However, once Damascus became the capital of the Muslim Caliphate, the Omayyad Mosque was built at the spot using 1000 laborers and stonemasons. Over time, the mosque suffered from damage at the hands of the Mongols, an earthquake and a great fire. It was restored a number of times following these incidents. It truly is an architectural marvel. Women must dress modestly, men must not wear shorts. Shoes must be taken off outside.
Timings: Daily, Sunrise- sunset (closed for Friday prayers)
Admission: 50 SP
Address: Old City