Al-Jāmi al-Aqsa Mosque

This is the central portal to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. The portal is apart of an arcade on the north façade of the building. As the most central entrance to the mosque, it is built taller to attract more attention. However, the pointed arch is not higher than any of the others, but instead, the wall above the arch is has been built up. Within this wall, there are three pairs of arches carved in high relief. These mini-arcades are supported by jambs, that seem as if they are almost columns in the round, with leafy, corinthian capitals. The parts of the wall which the arches frame are decorated with script, though it is difficult to tell whether those are medieval additions or not. Most of the portal seems to be made of pale “Jerusalem limestone,” though the columns supporting the main arch seem to be made of a darker, almost gray marble.

The arch of the portal has relief sculpture following the shape of the rounded parts of the arch, much like how archivolts surround a tympanum. The innermost “archivolts” are not patterned in any way; instead the arch is first framed by smooth, cylindrical structures that remind one of the supporting columns and jambs. A more squared version of this shape is repeated in the outermost “archivolt.” The “archivolt” that falls in between those has a zig-zag design with multiple lines, giving the appearance of many chevrons stacked together.

The way in which the arch was designed makes it seem as though different parts of it, particularly the “archivolts,” are supported by different columns or parts of the wall. The innermost “archivolts” extend down to wide columns that are darker than the arch and wall, which are made out of limestone. The outer ones seem to be supported by a thinner, lighter colored column; these seem like newer additions due to the lack of weathering on the capitals.

After going through the arch, viewers will look up and see a small dome. The dome itself is relatively low and clearly made out of limestone brick. The are four “indents” that are almost sea shell shaped, each one situated at one of the four cardinal directions. There are also two of the same indents above the top two corners of the door.



Works Cited:

“Al-Jāmi' Al-Aqsa (Al-Aqsa Congregation Mosque).” The Architectural Development of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Islamic Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period Sacred Architecture in the Shape of the 'Holy', by Haithem Fathi. Al-Ratrout, Al-Maktoum Institute Academic Press, 2004, pp. 511–534.

“Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Aga Khan Development Network, Aga Khan Foundation,

Yusuf al-Natsheh "Aqsa Mosque" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. 2018.;ISL;pa;Mon01;3;en

Al-Jāmi al-Aqsa Mosque