The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine found on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, however, getting inside Temple Mount as a tourist or non-Muslim can be a little complicated.
Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating place to learn more about, and one of the holiest places in the world. As of now, only Muslims are allowed to enter the grounds of the Dome of the Rock, or Qubbat al-Sakhrah (قبة الصخرة) as it’s known as in Arabic.
- It’s free to visit Dome of the Rock (though non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the dome).
- It’s free to enter Temple Mount (though there are strict rules and regulations around entry).
Keep reading below to find out about opening hours, access rules, and how to visit the Dome of the Rock.
Opening Hours and entry rules
Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the Dome of the Rock, but they are permitted to enter Temple Mount which is one of the most incredible sights in Jerusalem!
While there are 11 gates into Temple Mount, tourists and non-Muslims can only enter through the Moroccan Gate found near the Western Wall Plaza close to Dung Gate. Visiting hours are restricted to the following times:
- Summer: Sunday – Thursday 8:30am – 11:30am and 1:30pm to 2:30pm
- Winter: Sunday – Thursday 7:30am – 10:30am and 12:30pm – 1:30pm
However, entrance to the site is not guaranteed during these times as the site may be closed for security reasons.
It’s advised that you arrive an hour before you’d like to enter Temple Mount as the queues can become long and the waiting time could hamper your attempt to enter. Make sure you bring water and sunscreen in the height of summer to endure the heat.
A passport is required for entry to Temple Mount and security checks are taken very seriously. Do not bring any religious artifacts with you or anything that could be considered a weapon.
History & more information
The Islamic shrine Dome of the Rock is found on a holy site in Temple Mount, a protected area in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Dome was initially built in 691CE under the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik on the site of the Second Jewish Temple but was destroyed during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70CE.
The original dome was then rebuilt in 1022 and today stands as one of the oldest surviving works of Islamic architecture. Legend has it that the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam, ascended to heaven from this very site and the building protects the sacred land on which this occurred.
While tourists aren’t permitted to enter the dome or the underground rock, you can admire the beauty of the building from the outside as the Dome of the Rock is adorned with beautiful tiles and mosaics.
Both the interior and exterior of the dome are adorned with marble, mosaics, and metal plaques and you’ll notice Arabic script, patterns, and religious inscriptions dotted around the structure. The architecture and design of the building were inspired by nearby Byzantine churches and palaces, and although the exterior has been slightly altered, it’s still a fascinating sight to behold.
Points of Interest
Make sure you take a look at the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque which forms part of the Temple Mount complex alongside the Dome of the Rock. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the mosque is one of the most contested pieces of territory in the Holy Land and while non-Muslims are also prohibited from visiting, the building holds a lot of history. It’s the third holiest site in the world.
How to get to Dome of the Rock
By Train / Light Rail
If you’re traveling to Jerusalem by train from Tel Aviv, you’ll arrive at Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon Station. From here, head to Central Station and board the Light Rail to Ma’ale HaShalom. Alight the light-rail and walk to the Moroccan Gate, the walk should take 5-minutes.
If you’re already exploring central Jerusalem on foot, head to the Old City / Jewish Quarter. The walk from the Downtown Triangle neighborhood should take no more than 20-minutes.
The Dome of the Rock is found in Jerusalem’s Old City and is surrounded by several other important sites and renowned attractions including:
- The City of David
- King David’s Tomb
- Zion Gate
- Al-Aqsa Mosque
- Church of Mary Magdalene
- Jaffa Gate
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- Western Wall
- Friends of Zion Museum
- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Best time to visit
Summer is always busier than winter, and the afternoons tend to be busier than mornings. Try to arrive at the Moroccan Gate a good hour before you’d like to enter. One of the best ways to visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock is to do so with a local guide.
Facts about Dome of the Rock
- The Dome of the Rock is built on the place where, according to Muslim belief, Muhammad ascended to heaven.
- It’s the oldest Islamic monument that stands today.
- In the Judeo/Christian tradition, it is here that Abraham, the progenitor and first patriarch of the Hebrew people, is said to have prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac.
- The dome, which is approximately 20 meters (66 feet) in diameter and is mounted on an elevated drum, rises above a circle of 16 piers and columns.
- Arabic religious inscriptions run around the octagonal arcade.
- The great golden dome that crowns the Dome of the Rock was originally made of gold, but was replaced with copper and then aluminum. The aluminum is now covered with gold leaf, a donation from the late King Hussein of Jordan.
- The beautiful multicolored Turkish tiles that adorn the shrine’s exterior are faithful copies of the Persian tiles that Suleiman the Magnificent added in 1545 to replace the damaged originals.
FAQ’s (Things to know before you go)
What is the significance of the Dome of the Rock?
The Dome of the Rock was the first Muslim masterpiece built in 687AD, half a century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
What happened at the Dome of the Rock?
It is believed that Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended into heaven from this very site. Below the dome is a portion of the sacred rock.
Can you go inside the Dome of the Rock as a non-muslim?
Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock but can enjoy spectacular views from the Temple Mount courtyard during regular non-Muslim visiting hours.
How do I get into Temple Mount?
Tourists and non-Muslim visitors can only enter Temple Mount through the Moroccan Gate (also known as the Mugrabi Gate).
Is there a dress code for Temple Mount?
Please dress modestly. Women are expected to wear knee-length dresses or trousers and men are required to wear long pants below the knees.
Can I bring my luggage?
Do not bring luggage, shopping bags, religious items, or other unnecessary items to Temple Mount as it’s unlikely that you’ll be allowed in carrying such items.
Do I need my passport to enter Temple Mount?
Yes. Security is very strict and you should expect airport-style checks at the entrance to Temple Mount.
Is it safe to visit Temple Mount?
So long as you stick to the rules enforced, the site is a fairly safe place thanks to the strict security. Avoid visiting on Jewish festivals and Israeli national days as riots can start.
Do you have more questions about Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem? Leave a comment below!