Al-Aqsa Mosque

Al-Aqsa Mosque is on the south end of the Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem. It was rebuilt in 711 by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, and completed in the time of his son, Walid bin Abd al-Malik. The original wood building did not survive the elements and earthquakes.

The building was restored and reconstructed by Umayyad caliph Abu Jaafar al Mansur, later by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785) and again during the Fatimid period in the 11th century. The form of the present structure has remained the same since it was reconstructed by the Khalif Al-Dhahir in 1033 AD. Several more restorations took place during the 14th and 20th centuries. Little remains of the original Umayyad work besides the plan and arcade structure.

The mosque is 80 meters long and 50meters wide. It has two portals on the western side, one each on the eastern and northern sides; the latter dates to back the Fatimid era. The mosque consists of a hypostyle hall with 7 aisles; the columns are 5 meters high. The mihrab in the southern wall of the hall and the minbar were gifts from Salah al-Din.

Behing the mosque at the edge of the Noble Sanctuary is the ancient stone Thulathe Gate, the Mosque of Omar is adjacent on the east, and the Maghariba minaret and Dome of Youssef are to the west. In front of the main entrance to the mosque on the north is the ablution fountain, built in 12211 by Sultan Saif al-Din Abu Baker.

It is the second mosque ever built, its name, al-Aqsa, indicating the farthest mosque from Mecca. It is the largest congregational mosque in Jerusalem with a capacity for 5000 worshippers.