The Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
The Temple of Solomon, or rather the Mosque (Al-Aqsa) so called from its occupying the site of the ancient temple at Jerusalem, is a large octangular edifice, advantageously situate in the centre of a spacious area, decorated with gardens, walks, and fountains, in the eastern part of the city. It was erected by Omar, the second khalif, in the seventh century, and is considered as the finest mosque in Jerusalem; although much inferior to several at Constantinople. lt has four gates, and is in circumference about 260 paces.
The inside is of a circular form, adorned with white and variegated marble, taken from the Christian temples at different periods, particularly from those of Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre.
The roof and dome are supported by a double circular range of columns, of gray marble, sixteen in each circle, round which are suspended (according to the accounts of the missionaries) 7000 lamps for the illuminations at the time of the Ramadan or Turkish Lent, which lasts one month every year, when they are lighted at sunset every Thursday, and continue burning until noon on the following day.
In the centre of the mosque is a marble pulpit, whence the cadi, every Friday from twelve o’ clock till two, delivers his orations, and explains the Koran to his auditors.
The area in which the mosque stands is about a Roman mile in circumference, and nearly equal to one sixth part of the whole space within the city walls; the entrance is by several gates, at each of which are lamps- and oratories for prayer when the temple is shut.
The finest of these gates was anciently called Porta Speciosa, where it is said the palsied man was cured by Peter and John. The Porta Aurea, so named as is supposed from it’s golden ornaments, has been blocked up, from a ridiculous opinion, that through it the Christians would enter and take possession of Jerusalem, it being in the walls of the city, and within 100 paces of the temple; which having been sanctified by Mohammed, and 40,000 prophets, as the Turks assert, any prayers a Christian might there offer up would certainly be granted, even if they should be for the destruction of the Mohammedans, or the deliverance of the place to the Christians; on this account a strict guard is kept at all the entrances; and if any Christian be found either in the area, or the temple, he must immediately embrace the religion of Mohammed, or suffer death.
The gardens and fountains in this enclosure are well supplied with water from the celebrated Fons Signatus, as is also the cadi’s house, formerly the palace of the patriarchs of Jerusalem.
Source: Views in the Ottoman dominions: in Europe, in Asia, and some of the Mediterranean islands by Luigi Mayer; Sir Robert Ainslie; William Watts, engraver; Thomas Bensley, printer; Robert Bowyer, publisher. London: Printed by T. Bensley, Bolt Court, Fleet Street, for R. Bowyer, 80, Pall Mall, 1810.