The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus
Hardback, 264 pages
Art, Faith and Empire in Early Islam
An expansive illustrated history of the historic Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus is one of the oldest continuously used religious sites in the world. The mosque we see today was built in 705 CE by the Umayyad caliph al-Walid on top of a fourth-century Christian church that had been erected over a temple of Jupiter. Incredibly, despite the recent war, the mosque has remained almost unscathed, but over the centuries has been continuously rebuilt after damage from earthquakes and fires. In this comprehensive biography of the Umayyad Mosque, Alain George explores a wide range of sources to excavate the dense layers of the mosque’s history, also uncovering what the structure looked like when it was first built with its impressive marble and mosaic-clad walls. George incorporates a range of sources, including new information he found in three previously untranslated poems written at the time the mosque was built, as well as in descriptions left by medieval scholars. He also looks carefully at the many photographs and paintings made by nineteenth-century European travelers, particularly those who recorded the building before the catastrophic fire of 1893.