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The Umayyad Mosque

Al-Hamidiya, Damascus, Syria
In the same way that Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, the Umayyad Mosque is also the oldest continuously used place of worship in the world.

The site of the mosque had been once a magnificent Aramaean temple dedicated to the storm and rain god “Hadad”.

During the Hellenistic Period, the Aramaic temple was turned into the Temple of Zeus, only to be converted later into the Temple of Jupiter during the Roman Period.

In the second half of the 4th century, the Byzantines built a church dedicated to John the Baptist in the western part of the inner temple courtyard. The church contained the shrine of John the Baptist’s head.

At the beginning of the 8th century, the Umayyad ruler Al-Waleed Bin Abdul Malek turned the whole site into the mosque that graces Damascus Old City today.

Worshippers from all religions visit the Umayyad Mosque, which according to Islamic beliefs, will see the return of Jesus Christ. They pray next to the shrines of both John the Baptist and Al-Hussein Ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad.
Historical Periods: Aramaeans, Byzantine Period, Hellenistic Period, Roman Period, Umayyads

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