"The Omayyad Mosque" Omayyad Mosque Tip by sorrow

Omayyad Mosque, Damascus: 79 reviews and 227 photos

  The Omayyad Mosque
by sorrow

This Great Mosque stands at the heart of the Old city at the end of Souq al-Hamidiyeh. It was built by the Omayyad Caliph al-Walid ibn Abdul Malek in 705 A.D. when Damascus was the capital of the Arab Islamic Empire.
It was constructed on the site of what has always been a place of worship: first, a temple for Hadad, the Aramean god of the ancient Syrians three thousand years ago; then, a pagan temple (the temple of Jupiter the Damascene) during the Roman era. It was later turned into a church called John the Baptist when Christianity spread in the fourth century. Following the Islamic conquest in 635, Muslims and Christians agreed to partition it between them, and they began to perform their rituals side by side.

When al-Walid decided to erect an impressive mosque suited to the grandeur of the Arab state "whose like was never built before, nor will ever be built after" as he is reported to have said he negotiated with the Christian community of Damascus, and undertook to construct a new church for them (St. John's) and allot several pieces of land for other churches, if they relinquished their right to their part of the Mosque. They agreed. It took ten years and eleven million gold dinars, as well as a huge number of masons, artists, builders, carpenters, marble-layers, and painters to complete. It became an architectural model for hundreds of mosques throughout the Islamic world.

A prominent feature of it are the three minarets built in different styles; the upper parts of which were renovated during the Ayoubite, Mamluk, and Ottoman eras. The mosque has a large prayer hall and an enormous courtyard. The interior walls are covered with mosaic panels, made of coloured and gilded glass, portraying scenes from nature. The dome is greyich-blue, celebrated for its magnificence. The prayer hall contains domed shrine venerated by both Christians and Muslims, the tomb of St. John the Baptist.

Address: Damascus, the old town
Directions: the end of souk Al-hamidie

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Nov 26, 2003
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