The building east of the Dome of the Rock is the Dome of the Chain – a ten-sided building that was built in the 7th century. Saladin, who conquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders in the 12th century, added another side to the building, and it serves as a mihrab or prayer niche.
The Dome of the Ascension
The dome was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, and appears to have served as a Christian baptism chapel. Upon the conquest of the city by Saladin, the dome was dedicated to the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad to Heaven. Today, the building serves as an office for the Muslim Waqf. Between the Dome of the Ascension and the Dome of the Rock stands the Prophet’s Mihrab.
The Prophet’s Mihrab – Fatima’s
Dome or the Dome of Gabriel This is a small, open structure near the Dome of the Rock, with a dome resting on eight pillars.
On the floor of the structure lies a round, basinshaped stone, which serves as a mihrab. The site
is dedicated to the angel Gabriel, who stood here at the time of Muhammad’s ascension to Heaven, but it is also known as Fatima’s Dome (Qubbat Fatima) – named for the daughter of the Prophet. At the bottom of the stairs stands the Sebil Ka’it Bey, a public fountain for drinking and refreshment.
The sebil is named after Mameluke Sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf Ka’it Bey, who renovated the structure in the second half of the 15th century.
This is the entrance to al-Madrasa al-Ashrafiya, a school of religious studies built at the instructions
of Mameluke Sultan Ka’it Bey. The elaborate entrance is an example of the impressive Mameluke architectural style.
The Palace of Lady Tunshuq
Lady Tunshuq daughter of Abdullah alMuthaffariyye was the wife of Mameluke ruler Muthaffar al-Din. The lady dedicated the building at the end of the 14th century to a Sufi order, a group of Muslim mystics, but continued to live in the palace until her last day. She was buried in the tomb chamber across from the palace.
In the 16th century Mameluke Jerusalem was conquered by the Ottoman army, which was armed with guns and cannon. Under Ottoman rule Jerusalem became a frontier town at the edge of the Ottoman Empire, but the Temple Mount remained a major religious center.
During this time the building was occupied by Hasseki Sultana, the most beloved of the wives of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the builder of the walls around the city of Jerusalem. She was known for her charitable works and established a soup kitchen to feed poor and needy Muslims.
During the later Ottoman Period this became the site of the sar’iyye, the government building, which housed the local government and police force. Today the building is used as a vocational school.
Suq Khan al-Zayit (Street of the Olive Press)
We are walking through one of the bazaars of the Old City. This market was used by residents of East Jerusalem for shopping and entertainment, with its many fragrances and colors, and an abundance of merchandise. Numerous visitors, residents and tourists regularly crowd the market’s alleys.
The part of the street we are walking down is part of the Via Dolorosa, and at certain times of the year you can see Christian pilgrims walking along this route carrying large wooden crosses on their backs.
We are standing in an ancient khan (caravanserai) that was used to house merchants, pilgrims and travelers to Jerusalem. Construction of the khan is attributed to Barquq, a Mameluke sultan from the 14th century. Above the entrance is a decorated balcony. At the end of the entrance, on the left, there is a stairway leading to the roof. You may ascend the steps to the roof to enjoy the view. Today the courtyard is somewhat neglected, but in the past this royal khan saw better days and was considered quite magnificent. The courtyard itself is typical for Jerusalem of the Middle Ages – consisting of an open air yard surrounded by closed off rooms.
To our right is the Al Khaldieh library building and the tomb of Baraqa Khan. The building was originally built in 1246 and was renovated in the 14th century by the Mamelukes.
The building façade is decorated in typical ablaq style, and arches adorn the windows. Above the windows is an inscription dedicated to Emir Adeen Baraqa Khan, an Asian ruler who is buried in the building alongside his sons.
Today the building houses the library of the AKhaldieh family, which includes thousands of manuscripts and printed volumes, among these a 400-year old copy of the Qur’an and an original book of Hadith (a collection of oral tradition) which is about a thousand years old.