20 February, 2011

Three domes in the courtyard. (part IX in the series about the Grand Mosque of Damascus)

1.    Qubbat al-Khazna (‘the dome of the treasury’)

It stands on eight Roman columns topped by capitals, which probably date from the 2nd century AD. The octagonal treasury building was built in 788 AD to house the mosque's treasures. It is covered with 13th and 14th century mosaics and has a domed roof. Its purpose was to accommodate the treasury of the Muslim State.

2.    Dome of the clocks (‘Zein al-Abidin Dome’)

Zein al-Abidin Dome on the eastern side is also supported by eight columns. The presence of the clocks was a general and usual phenomenon as it was used to make people know the times of prayer. The Dome of the Clocks was built in the 18th century to counterbalance the older Dome of the Treasury at the other end of the courtyard. It was used to store the mosque's clocks. It is a fairly plain and simple structure.

3.    Ablutions fountain.

The centrepiece of the Umayyad Mosque's courtyard, flanked by the Dome of the Treasury to the west and the Dome of the Clocks to the east, is the Ablutions Fountain, which was built to provide a clean supply of water for the obligatory pre-prayer wash. It has a wooden-balustraded balcony and a metal, domed roof above it. 

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