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La Cupola della Roccia e il Tempio di Salomone nell’Haram al-Sharif
Maria Losito

La Cupola della Roccia e il Tempio di Salomone nell’Haram al-Sharif

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The most famous sacred area in the world, the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem (Bayt al-Maqdis) has seen a succession of impressive reconstruction and landscape works, which have even changed the orography of the place. First of all, the pious Solomon permanently sacralized the place from the 10th century BC with the construction of the First Temple on the narrow crest of a hill, then enlarged with earth carry-overs, containment walls and fortification to host a series of courtyards for the pilgrims and visitors. Following the devastation of the 6th century BC, the Second Temple (built by Zerubbabel) idealized the Temple as the realization of a hope, while Herod was responsible for the last sumptuous renewal. After the unfortunate period of destruction due to Titus, with a definitive leveling of the area, we witnessed the rebirth of the magnificent Esplanade of the Temple, with the superb and elegant Dome of the Rock in the center. Among its meanings, we find the visual promotion of the Islamic faith, the memory of Abraham and the nobility of the area where the First Temple was located, and the commemoration of the night journey and the ascension of the prophet Muhammad. A theme that is certainly comparable to other hierosolimitian buildings (the chapel of the Ascension in primis) and to buildings of the Christian Renaissance (such as the temple of S. Pietro in Montorio, see essay 5 here); it is also remarkable the tradition of the octagon from the Middle Eastern sources to the Dome of the Rock to the echo in the Middle Ages (primarily Castel del Monte). Our journey through temples (and religions) that followed one another on the Esplanade of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem makes us appreciate their common elements: the Temple as the focal point of a broad devotional and pilgrimage activity in the surrounding courtyards, which sometimes symbolize the Gardens of Paradise; the Temple as a microcosm that sums up the universe, as evident above all in the meanings attributed to the buildings on the Esplanade and to the Cave under the Rock, as the large place of the Resurrection of the dead; the Temple as an application of a modular rigor of architectural construction, inspired by the needs of elegance and well summarized in the Vitruvian principles of symmetry. As is shown in the First Temple of Solomon whose volumes given by the biblical texts are cubes or parallelepipeds with sides based on modules of 10 or 20 or 40 cubits, or in the Dome of the Rock where we find a spectacular octagonal symmetry of a prism with sides slightly longer than 20 meters (40 cubits) surmounted by a drum and a dome with a diameter of about 20 m. The Dome of the Rock thus becomes an aesthetic emblem also shared by the Crusaders (who often equated it with the 1st Temple), as well as by Muslims, a wish for understanding the various traditions that have produced and admired this magnificent monumental complex, of profound technique and superb beauty.

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