Duby Tal / Albatross

The shape of the holy, before the arrival of the Muslims in 638 C.E., was suggested by the very topography of Jerusalem. In the east, on the Mount of Olives, lay the Church of the Ascension (seen in the center foreground of the photo), where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God (see, for example, Luke 24:50–51). In the west, in the heart of the ancient Old City, arose the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (seen slightly to the right in the background of the photo), which covered the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Between these two holy places was the Temple Mount (visible in the center of the photo), the site of Herod’s Temple and probably Solomon’s Temple. When the Muslims arrived, however, the Temple Mount lay in utter desolation, a mute testament to Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The Muslims soon lay claim to this holy site at the center of Jerusalem—building the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine that still stands gleaming above the city.