Templum Domini

Dome of the Rock Crusader Candelabra


Kubbat-As-Sakhra from N.W. Corner of Platform, Photographs of the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, Charles W. Wilson, 1865.

After the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock became the Templum Domini church, and an altar devoted to St. Nicholas was erected above the Foundation Stone. The rock was surrounded by an iron lattice-work grille, decorated with leaves and branches. The altar was also encompassed by an iron grille on which the date of its creation (1162) was engraved. The two oil candelabra, also made of iron, were placed in the corner southwest of the Foundation Stone, near a lattice-work cell whose function is not known.

Inside the Templum Domini, the Crusaders hung a painting of the presentation of Christ. Accompanying the painting was a rhymed Latin inscription-

The Virgin’s Son, presented here,

The King of Kings, the boy most dear,

He makes this spot a holy place,

And this most rightly is the case.

The ladder Jacob saw was near

The altar he erected here

This memory makes more precious yet

The holy place in which it’s set.

A Crusader account of the Dome of the Rock-

“To the east, below Mt. Calvary, is the Temple of the Lord [the Dome of the Rock], in another part of the city, which was built by Solomon… In the middle of the Temple is a great mount [es-Sakhra] surrounded by walls, in which is the Tabernacle; there also was the Ark of the Covenant which, after the destruction of the Temple, was taken away to Rome by the Emperor Vespasian.”


The Crusader alterations to the Al-Aqsa Mosque were extensive, but they are very difficult to sort out amid the later rebuildings and restorations. During the early years of Crusader rule, the building languished in a sad state of disrepair. The Templars, however, with their vast revenues from land holdings in Europe and the Levant, began a veritable building boom. A contemporary describes additions made by the knights in the 1170s-

On the other side of the palace, that is on the west, the Templars have built a new house, whose height, length and breadth, and all its cellars and refectories, staircase and roof, are far beyond the custom of this land…. There indeed they have constructed a new Palace, just as on the other side they have the old one. There too they have founded on the edge of the outer court a new church of magnificent size and workmanship.


By the time Saladin captured the city in 1187, Imad ad-Din had described extensive additions to the interior of the Dome of the Rock-

They had adorned it with images and statues, set up dwellings there for monks and made it the place for the Gospel, which they venerated and exalted to the heights. Over the place of the Prophet’s holy foot they set an ornamented tabernacle with columns of marble, marking it as the place where the Messiah had set his foot; a holy and exalted place, where flocks of animals, among which I saw species of pig, were carved in marble.

Wilkinson, John, ed. Jerusalem Pilgrimage, 1099-1185. London- Hakluyt Society, 1988, p. 212, 246, 294.

Gabrieli, Francesco, ed. Arab Historians of the Crusades- Selected and Translated from the Arabic Sources. Berkely- Univ. of California Press, 1969, p. 169.

Cited in Meinhardt, Jack, ed. Crusaders in the Holy Land; The Archaeology of Faith. Washington DC- Biblical Archaeology Society, 2005, p. 18-20.

See also-

Dome of the Rock, 688