The Temple Mount (Al-Haram ash-Sharif to Muslims) includes multiple sites spread across a large open plaza dotted by cypress trees. Most of the current architecture dates from the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the seventh century. The site is revered by Judaism as the location of the first temple built by King Solomon and a second temple build under the leadership of Ezra and expanded by Herod the Great in the first century BCE. Both Judaism and Islam revere the site as the location of Mount Moriah where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son (Isaac, according to Jews, or Ishmael, according to Muslims) in obedience to God. For Muslims, the site is also the location of Muhammad’s midnight journey to Jerusalem and ascension to heaven.
Non-Muslims may enter the plaza but not the buildings, including the Dome of the Rock or Al Asqa Mosque. Even so, the plaza is a peaceful respite from the crowded, narrow streets of the Old City, and the dazzling Dome merits an up-close look.
Visitors should be aware that lines to enter the Temple Mount can be very long, and opening hours are limited.