The Temple Mount, also known as Mount Moriah and among Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is an elevated plateau where several temples have stood, mostly Jewish, throughout history. It is said that this is the place where God pulled the clay to create the first man and the earth came into its present form, making it the holiest place in Judaism. This plateau is also one of the most sacred sites among the Muslims, as it is said to be the location of the prophet Mohammed’s ascension into heaven.
Because of its extreme importance to both sides, Israel and Palestine have remained at odds over this key site. Archaeology on Mount Moriah is limited in the area due to the highly sensitive issues surrounding the mount. In addition to Jews and Muslims, the Temple Mount is also a revered place for Christians, and as such it draws visitors from all over the world.
Two Jewish temples have been built on this location in honor of God resting his "name and divine presence" on the Temple Mount Jerusalem, but they have been destroyed, though a third is in the works. It is believed that this is the chosen place for the beginning of man and the entire earth; the Foundation Stone, is even enshrined on the Temple Mount Jerusalem. Due to a discrepancy of the exact holiest spot on Mount Moriah, some people refuse to set foot on the plateau at all. In Islamic tradition, this is the location of Mohammed’s destination in Jerusalem and his ascent to heaven. Because of this belief, the Noble Sanctuary is the third-most important religious place for Muslims, following Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, and is home to the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Mount Zion is a historical reference to the Temple Mount and the City of David, which is a promontory just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Visitors to Mount Zion will find several intriguing points of interest, including King David’s Tomb, the Room of the Last Supper, and the cemetery where Oskar Schindler is buried; Schindler is noted among the Righteous Gentiles because he saved 1,200 Jews from the slaughter of the Holocaust.
There are several attractions and important religious locations on the Temple Mount Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock. The Western Wall, often referred to as the Wailing Wall, is located on the western edge of the mount. According to Jewish tradition, the Silent Prayer must be done facing mizrach, which is toward Jerusalem, and this particular wall of the Temple Mount is closest to the Holy of Holies; therefore, prayer at this wall is said to be particularly beneficial.
Consistent with Islamic tradition, Mount Moriah is known as the third holiest site for Muslims; Muhammed, it is said, was transported from Mecca to al-Aqsa. Initially, a small prayer house was built on this location, but it was later rebuilt as a much larger building known as the al-Aqsa Mosque. Together with the mosque, the Dome of the Rock makes up part of a religious complex on the Temple Mount; much of the importance of this building stems from the Foundation Rock found within, which is significant both to Jews and Muslims alike. For many years, non-Muslims were prohibited from visiting the compound, but today, it has been reopened and guests are granted visitation during certain times of the day.
If you plan to visit Jerusalem during your trip to Israel, the Temple Mount is one of those great places to consider to enhance your knowledge of history and religious beliefs, besides the breathtaking views to achieve at the top of the mount. Some of the best views of the Temple Mount can be had from the Mount of Olives and the bell tower of the Redeemer Church near the Holy Sepulcher. Visitors should be aware that visiting the Temple Mount is free for everyone, but many religious activities are prohibited within the site to avoid conflict.