Solomon's Stables

Coordinates: 31°46′35″N 35°14′13″E / 31.77639°N 35.23694°E / 31.77639; 35.23694
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In December 1996 the new mosque was officially inaugurated as El-Marwani Mosque. The Solomon's Stables no longer exist as such.[1]

Al-Marwani Mushalla (Hebrew: אורוות שלמה, Arabic: المصلى المرواني) is an underground vaulted space now used as a Muslim prayer hall by the name of Al-Marwani Mosque,[2] some 600 square yards (500 square metres) in area, at the bottom of stairs which lead down from the al-Aqsa Mosque, under the al-Aqsa Mosque, to the base of the southern wall of the enclave of al-Aqsa Mosque in Islamicjerusalem Jerusalem. Al-Marwani Mosque is located under the southeastern corner of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, 12.5 m (41 ft) below the courtyard, and feature twelve rows of pillars and arches. In December 1996 the Waqf converted the area into a prayer hall by adding lights and floor tiles,[3] and renamed it the El-Marwani Prayer Hall (Arabic: المصلى المرواني).


Al-Marwani Mosque in the 1936 Old City of Jerusalem map by Survey of Palestine

The structure is most widely said to have been built by the Ummayad Caliph Abd al-Malik and some claim it is from the time of King Herod (reigned 37–4 BCE) as part of his extension of the platform of the al-Aqsa Mosque southward onto the Ophel. The Herodian engineers constructed the enormous, almost rectangular platform above the slopes of the hill known as the Temple Mount, by building a substructure consisting of a series of vaulted arches in order to reduce pressure on the retaining walls.[4] These vaults, "supported by eighty-eight pillars resting on massive Herodian blocks and divided into twelve rows of galleries",[5] were originally storage areas of the Second Temple. A great deal of the original interior survives in the area of the Herodian staircases, although not in the area now renovated for use as a mosque.[4] Visitors are rarely permitted to enter the areas with Herodian finishes.[4]

The underground space for the most part remained empty except during Crusader rule over Jerusalem.[1] The Crusaders converted it into a stable for the cavalry. The rings for tethering horses can still be seen on some of the pillars. The structure has been called Solomon's Stables since the time of the Crusades as a historical composite: 'Solomon's' refers to the First Temple built on the site, while the 'stables' refers to the functional usage of the space by the Crusaders in the time of Baldwin II (King of Jerusalem 1118–1131 CE).[6]

Modern construction of the El-Marwani Mushalla[edit]

Al-Marwani consists of two parts: The first section: Is the corridors of the triple gate, and it consists of three corridors (the first of which is the main door corridor, the second hallway stores the purposes of the mosque, and the third is closed with stone). It suggests it dates back to the same period of the Umayyad. The second section: is a large settlement consisting of thirteen terraces of giant pillars; the weight of some of its stones reaches several tons, has a high ceiling and connects the two sections with a small door. Marwani area is about four dunums, four point five acres, or precisely 3,750 square meters.[7] It can accommodate about four thousand worshipers.

This mushalla is the largest area roofed in Al-Aqsa Mosque and has 16 standing stone towers on strong stone pillars. This Marwani Mushalla is accessible by going down a flight of stairs near Bi'r al-Waraqah (under al-Qibli mushalla) to the northeast of the al-Aqsa Mosque building or down a newly constructed grand staircase to two northern arches near the east enclosure wall of Masjid al-Aqsa.[7]

In the winter of 1996 the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf acquired a permit to use Solomon's Stables as an alternative place of worship for occasional rainy days of the holy month of Ramadan.[1] Later the Waqf declared that it aimed to create a mosque for 10,000 worshippers, making it the largest mosque in the country.[1] This move was designed to strengthen the Muslim claim over the Temple Mount.[1]

The Southern Wall of the Temple Mount showing damaged area and criticized repair job as a bright white patch to right.[8]

The Waqf began digging a huge hole in the southeastern area of the Temple Mount, without a permit from the Jerusalem municipality or archaeological supervision using tractors and heavy vehicles.[1] This action drew criticism from archaeologists, who said that archaeological strata and artifacts were being damaged in the process and the excavations weakened the stability of the Southern Wall. The excavations are thought to have been responsible for creating a large, visible bulge in the Southern Wall that threatened the structural integrity of the Temple Mount, necessitating major repairs.[8] The repairs have been called "unsightly" because they appear as a large, bright, white patch of smooth stones in a golden tan wall of rusticated ashlar.[8]

In December 1996 the new mosque was officially inaugurated as El-Marwani Mosque.

In 1999, construction began on an emergency exit for the El-Marwani Mosque. In doing so, bulldozers dug a pit more than 131 feet long and nearly 40 feet deep, with lorry trucks carting away hundreds of tons of soil and debris from the area. In order to preserve the archaeological integrity of the site, the soil that had been carted away was reclaimed by Israeli archaeologists, who began sifting through the removed earth in search of undisclosed artefacts, a project that became known as the Temple Mount Sifting Project.[9]

2019 fire[edit]

On April 15, 2019, a minor fire broke out in the guard room in the courtyard of El-Marwani Mosque. The Waqf fire brigade succeeded in putting out the fire. From some angles it appeared as if smoke was coming out of the underground mosque itself.[10]

Alternative history of Al-Marwani Mushalla[edit]

A modern theory written in the book معالم المسجد الأقصى تحت المجهر stated that Omar's mosque was found in this place.[11] It might have been constructed on the remains of the mushalla of wood that the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab built.[12] The Calipgh' Abd Malik ibn Marwan and his son al-Walid rebuilt the roof of the Mushalla with arched stones with a barrel vault similar to what is the case in the Umayyad desert castles in the Jordanian-Syrian steppe and Umayyad mosque in Damascus.[7]

Al-Omari said, quoting the companion Taj al-Din, "This assembly is impressive and it was complex from the mosque above, and from inside the khanqah, it has authority (the Al-Khatani corner later) and it now has a Syeikh known as Al-Khatni and it has two Salmans: one of them is thirty-six degrees, descending from it to some sections of the council, and the second is fifty-four degrees, from which he descends to the rest of the sections of the council as mentioned above.[11]

Another account, Jordanian scholar, Raef Yusuf Najm suggests that the mosque was initially a water reservoir that had been built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the second century, along with the stone wall currently surrounding al-Aqsa Mosque. "Its overall structure closely resembles that of the Roman Ramla reservoir with stone pillars and junctions. That the reservoir was built at the same time as the wall is evident since the southern and eastern walls of the reservoir are a continuation of the wall surrounding al-Aqsa Mosque. Instead of an addition built long after the wall, the reservoir was built at the same time, as can be inferred from the joining of the stones. The reservoir was used to collect water flowing into it from surrounding areas, through horizontal aqueducts made of stone and feeding into vertical canals in the external walls of the reservoir. One of these vertical canals can still be seen today and is located at the level of the main entrance of the El-Marwani Mosque. It is semi-circular and is lined with a Roman fuller of limestone mixed with ground clay and sand. The flooring of the reservoir is made of stone, but is covered with layers of silt that have accumulated over the years."[13]

The Marwani Mushalla through The Ages[edit]

1. Early Islamic period

It was unknown how the building was used and what it was called since the Umayyad construction until before the Frankish Crusader occupation. None of the ancient historians, such as Ibn al-Faqih and al-Maqdisi, mentioned anything about the building, but Nasir Khusraw 438 AH / 1047 CE (in the Fatimid period) mentioned the room of the cradle of Jesus without touching on the rest of the huge building, which indicates that the place was closed to visitors.[12]

2. Crusader occupation

The Knights (rulers) of the Temple (Temples) turned the settlement into a stable for horses. They converted it into a church named Solomon's Stable, thinking that this place was built by the Prophet Solomon, and they used the single door to enter their horses.[14] The holes they dug in the stones of the pillars to tie their horses remain to this day. A portion of the single-door arch can be seen behind the wooden mihrab.[12]

3. Ayyubid liberation and the Mamluk period

After the liberation of the mosque from the Crusaders at the hands of the Ayyubids, the place was purified and cleaned. Then it was used later for various purposes, as its corridors were divided into separate rooms. Some of which were used as storerooms for the mosque and the other as a hostel for the Sufis and students who were studying in the corner or zawiya as Salman was praying between Al-Marwani and Al-Khattaniyyah (currently the library), based on the testimony of the companion Tajuddin, who lived in the Mamluk period.[11]

4. Ottoman period

The site was neglected, and it became a place for roaming birds only, and because of the vastness of the site and poor lighting, people were afraid to reach it and composed imaginary stories around it to scare children. Evliya Celebi mentioned in 1083 AH / 1672 AD during his visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque: that the site was dark and frightening, and to this day, it is a sleeping place for the evil jinn, and it is full of dust.[15]

5. The modern era / The Zionist Occupation

The site remained a settlement close to the public, comprising the mushalla's yards until 1417 AH / 1996 AD. When the authorities built stairs in front of the closed triple door behind the settlement, they fear of storming and seizing it and turning it into a Jewish synagogue. The Muslim masses in Jerusalem and the Palestinian interior rose to restore it as a Musholla.

Al Aqsa Foundation for the Reconstruction of Holy Sites and the Islamic Heritage Committee in Beit Al-Maqdis tried to restore it. The work began in 1996 in two months. This massive rehabilitation contributed to solving the problem of overcrowding in Ramadan praying. The Muslims opened two giant gates from the gates of the Marwani Mushalla, the vast north, in May 2000.[16]

The entrance to the Mushalla was through one of the corridors of the triple door (on the northwestern side of the chapel), which is a narrow entrance that caused crowding at the exit of the worshipers, especially during Friday prayers and the month of Ramadan, which necessitated the reopening of giant gates located north of Marwani, in the year 1420 AH/1999 CE. [16]

The Mushalla has been restored several times in recent years. The restoration is still in full swing, as serious cracks are visible in the stones of some of the pillars due to suspicious Israeli excavations.[16]


The soil removed from the dig was dumped near the Mount of Olives and a salvage operation, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, was undertaken in order to sift through the debris for archaeological remains. Many important finds have turned up.[17] Israeli Antiques Authority published a report in 1999. According to this report:[1]

  • 14 percent of the shards dated to the First Temple period
  • 19 percent to the Second Temple period
  • 6 percent to the Roman period
  • 14 percent to the Byzantine period
  • 15 percent to the early Muslim and medieval periods
  • 32 percent could not be identified.

In a June 2000 interview with The Jerusalem Post, the chief Waqf archaeologist said that his colleagues examined the material taken out of the dig "either before or after the excavation" and "found nothing of special interest".[1] In 2016 exquisite floor tiles of the Roman opus sectile type discovered during the sifting process were published and interpreted as likely belonging to the Herodian Temple complex, where they were adorning the floors of the porticos.[18]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rivka Gonen (2003). Contested Holiness: Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Perspectives on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. pp. 167–169. ISBN 978-0-88125-799-1.
  2. ^ Al- Ratrout, Haithem (2004). The Architectural Development Of Al-Aqsa Mosque In The Early Islamic Period Sacred Architecture In The Shape Of The 'Holy'. United Kingdom: Al-Maktoum Institute Academic Press. pp. 385–401.
  3. ^ Joshua Hammer, "What is Beneath the Temple Mount?" Smithsonian, April 2011
  4. ^ a b c Hershel Shanks, Jerusalem an Archaeological Biography, Random House, 1995, p. 141-15.
  5. ^ Priscilla Soucek, "The Temple of Solomon in Islamic Legend and Art." In The Temple of Solomon: Archaeological Fact and Medieval Tradition in Christian, Islamic and Jewish Art. Edited by Joseph Gutmann. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1976, p. 97
  6. ^ Linquist, J.M., The Temple of Jerusalem, Praeger, London, 2008, p.207
  7. ^ a b c Ghosheh, M. Hashim. (2005). Guide to the Masjid al-Aqsa; an Architectural and Historical Guide to the Islamic Monuments in the Masjid al-Aqsa. Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs.
  8. ^ a b c "Temple Mount Repairs Leave Eyesores," Hershel Shanks, September/October 2010, Biblical Archaeology Review.
  9. ^ Hammer, J. (April 2011). "What is Beneath the Temple Mount?". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  10. ^ O'Connor, Tom (15 April 2019). "Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque burns at the same time as fire engulfs Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris". Newsweek. Retrieved 16 April 2019. [4:58 PM EDT]
  11. ^ a b c Al-Omari, S. مسالك الأبصار في ممالك الأمصار ((Vol. 2) ed.).
  12. ^ a b c Al-Jallad, I. (2017). معالم المسجد الأقصى تحت المجهر [Al-Aqsa Mosque landmarks under the microscope]. Baytul Maqdis Center for Literature.
  13. ^ Raef Yusuf Najm, Jordan’s Role in ensuring the protection of Islamic and Christian Holy Sites in Al Quds Al Sharif, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) conference, Amman, November 2004
  14. ^ TİKA (2013). Mescid-I Aksa Rehberi (Harem-i Şerif) (PDF). PASSIA.
  15. ^ Asali, Kamil Jamil. (1995). بيت المقدس في كتب الرحلات عند العرب والمسلمين.
  16. ^ a b c Ghosheh, M. Hashim. (2005). Guide to the Masjid al-Aqsa; an Architectural and Historical Guide to the Islamic Monuments in the Masjid al-Aqsa. Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs.
  17. ^ First Temple artifacts found in dirt removed from Temple Mount
  18. ^ "Biblical Temple flooring 'restored'". BBC News. 2016-09-06. Retrieved 2018-07-30.

External links[edit]

31°46′35″N 35°14′13″E / 31.77639°N 35.23694°E / 31.77639; 35.23694