Qubbat al-Arwah (Dome of the Souls)
Qubbat al-Arwah is located in the Haram al-Sharif in the northwest area of the Dome of the Rock; about 10 m from the northwest arcade, Jerusalem
Hegira 1037 / AD 1627–8
Ottoman; the dome probably Umayyad
The Qubbat al-Arwah (Dome of the Souls) is an independent architectural unit with an octagonal ground plan. It includes eight cylindrical marble columns which have stone bases and marble capitals in different styles and forms. These are supported by eight small tapered arches. On top of the apex of the arches there is a stone course, and above that a projecting stone frieze. A semi-spherical dome, which is inclined to be pointed to some extent, lies directly above the level of the frieze. The dome is crowned by a stone crescent made up of three sections. The dome is eye-catching because it is not covered with terracotta, stone slabs, tiles or by lead panels, but is plastered, and thus resembles other domes in the area of the Haram al-Sharif, such as al-Khidr Dome, Dome of Sulayman and the Dome of Musa.
The Qubbat al-Arwah can be entered from a number of directions, since its plan is an open-sided octagon that, inside, is encircled by a stone belt made up of a single course. The floor of the dome is made up of irregularly sized natural-stone tiles. On the south side of the stone belt there is a protrusion in the form of a semi-circle, which indicates the mihrab. To the west of the mihrab there is a marble panel that is geometric in both form and decoration and which might allude to architectural activity that was once practiced on site.
The construction of the Qubbat al-Arwah on this site was influenced by two factors: the first was the presence of a foundation that comprised just one paving stone. The second was the belief, which dominates Islamic Thought, that Jerusalem – and especially the Haram al-Sharif – is the site of the Resurrection and the final reckoning. Thus, this site is deserving of a visit; it is where the faithful can pray and lift their hands in supplication to request a blessing. This belief was also connected to a number of other sites in the Haram al-Sharif, such as the Sarat (projecting pillar in the east wall of the Haram) and the Well of the Spirits (inside a cave at the Dome of the Rock).
This commemorative building has a graceful shape and includes eight marble pillars creating an octagonal floor plan. The columns support eight tapered arches, on which a stone frieze is carved. On top of it is a semi-spherical dome covered with lime plaster and crowned by a stone crescent. The building is open from all directions and is surrounded by a stone course. There are many beliefs surrounding the Qubba that link it to the Day of Judgement and to spirits.
The building was dated by historical records in the registers of the Shari'a Court in Jerusalem (No. 113, p.639). These records infer that the present dome was erected in 1037 / 1627–8.
Natsheh, Y., “Qubbat al-Arwah”, in S. Auld and R. Hillenbrand (eds), Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City 1517–1917 (Part II), London, 2000.
Yusuf al-Natsheh "Qubbat al-Arwah (Dome of the Souls)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;pa;Mon01;31;en
Prepared by: Yusuf Al-NatshehYusuf al-Natsheh
Yusuf Said Natsheh is a Palestinian and since 1997 he has been Director of the Department of Islamic Archaeology in al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. He is a lecturer at al-Quds University. He was educated in Jerusalem and Cairo and in 1997 obtained his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Dr Natsheh is a council member of many Palestinian societies for architectural heritage and a consultant for various projects on Jerusalem. He has written books and more than 40 articles about Jerusalem's architectural heritage including the architectural survey of Ottoman architecture in R. Hillenbrand and S. Auld (eds) Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City 1517–1917 (London: Altajir World of Islam Trust, 2000). He has contributed to many international and national conferences. He supervised the restoration project, sponsored by the Arab League, on Mamluk monuments in and around al-Haram al-Sharif, and was Palestinian expert for the UNESCO mission to Jerusalem in 2004.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 31
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