The umayyad mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. Located in one of the holiest sites in the old city of Damascus,syria. it is of great architectural importance.
The mosque holds a shrine which is said to contain the head of John the Baptist (Yahya), honored as a prophetShī‘ah, among them is the place where the head of Husayn (the grandson of Muhammad) was kept on display by Yazīd I. There is also the tomb of Saladin, which stands in a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque. by Muslims and Christians alike. The head was supposedly found during the excavations for the building of the mosque.
The spot where the mosque now stands was a temple of Hadad in the Aramaean era. The Aramaean presence was attested by the discovery of a basalt orthostat depicting a sphinx, excavated in the north-east corner of mosque. The site was later temple of Jupiter in the Roman era, then a Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist in the Byzantine era.
Initially, the Muslim conquest of Damascus in 636 did not affect the church, as the building was shared by Muslim and Christian worshippers. It remained a church although the Muslims built a mud brick structure against the southern wall so that they could pray. Under the UmayyadAl-Walid I, however, the church was purchased from the Christians before being demolished. Between 706 and 715 the current mosque was built in its place. According to the legend, Al-Walid himself initiated the demolition by driving a golden spike into the church. At that point in time, Damascus was one of the most important cities in the Middle East and would later become the capital of the Umayyad caliphate. caliph
In the 14th century, one of the most famous Islamic astronomers, Ibn al-Shatir, worked as muwaqqit (موقت, religious timekeeper) at the Umayyad Mosque.