Temple Mount

The Knights Templar and the Temple Mount

The Temple Mount, a sacred site in the heart of Jerusalem, has long been a focal point for religious and political intrigue. Its storied past has been shaped by the intersecting histories of three major monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the early 12th century, the site became closely linked with the enigmatic Christian military order known as the Knights Templar. This article delves into the fascinating history of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, exploring its connection to the Knights Templar and addressing questions surrounding the presence of a mosque on the site.

Where is the Temple Mount? 

The Temple Mount, an iconic and sacred site, is situated within the Old City of Jerusalem, which is located in present-day Israel. It is a large, elevated platform that covers approximately 35 acres, surrounded by ancient walls, including the famous Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. The Temple Mount holds immense religious and historical significance for the three major monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

In addition to its religious importance, the Temple Mount has a complex political history. It has been controlled by various empires and nations throughout the centuries, including the Romans, Byzantines, Islamic Caliphates, Crusaders, and the Ottoman Empire. Currently, the site is under Israeli control, while the Islamic Waqf manages its day-to-day administration, maintaining a delicate balance between the religious communities that revere the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount: A Brief Overview

Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount is an important religious site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It is believed to be where God created the universe and where Abraham offered his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. For millennia, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been a focal point for the three Abrahamic faiths.

For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, as it once housed the First and Second Temples. The initial Temple, constructed by King Solomon in the 10th century BCE, was demolished by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Subsequently, the Second Temple, erected during the time of Persian rule, was razed by the Romans in 70 CE.

For Christians, the Temple Mount holds significance as the site of Jesus’ preaching and the location of the Crucifixion, according to some interpretations.

For Muslims, the Temple Mount, known as Haram al-Sharif, is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. It is believed to be where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven during the Night Journey (Isra and Mi’raj).

Who Built the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem was constructed in several stages by different groups and leaders throughout history. The original platform upon which the First Temple was built is attributed to King Solomon, the son of King David. According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon constructed the First Temple in the 10th century BCE as a permanent dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant.

After the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE, the Jews returned from exile and rebuilt the Temple during the Persian period. The Second Temple, completed around 516 BCE, stood on the Temple Mount until it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

During the reign of Herod the Great (37-4 BCE), the Temple Mount underwent significant expansion and renovation. Herod initiated an ambitious project to enlarge the platform, constructing massive retaining walls and filling the space with earth to create a larger, level surface. The Western Wall, which still stands today, is a remnant of Herod’s construction efforts. This expansion allowed the Temple Mount to accommodate larger crowds and additional structures, including the magnificent Second Temple’s renovation, which Herod undertook.

In the 7th century CE, after the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem, the Umayyad Caliphate built two significant structures on the Temple Mount: the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The Al-Aqsa Mosque was built around 705 CE, and the Dome of the Rock was completed in 691 CE.

Since then, the Temple Mount has seen various modifications and restorations by different rulers and empires, but its essential structure and significance have remained intact throughout the centuries.

Why is the Temple Mount Important to Christianity? 

The Temple Mount is important to Christianity due to its historical, religious, and theological connections. The site is deeply intertwined with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity. Some of the reasons for the Temple Mount’s significance to Christians include the following:

  1. Jesus’ Visits to the Temple: According to the New Testament, Jesus visited the Temple in Jerusalem several times throughout his life. He accompanied his parents to the Temple for Jewish festivals as a child. Jesus returned to the Temple during his ministry to teach, debate religious leaders, and share his message.
  2. The Cleansing of the Temple: One of the most well-known episodes from Jesus’ life took place at the Temple Mount. Jesus drove out money changers and merchants from the Temple, accusing them of turning the sacred space into a “den of thieves.” This event is recounted in all four Gospels and is seen as a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry that ultimately contributed to his arrest and Crucifixion.
  3. The Prophecy of the Temple’s Destruction: Jesus predicted the destruction of the Second Temple, which came to pass in 70 CE when the Romans sacked Jerusalem. This prophecy is significant in Christian theology. It is seen as a sign of Jesus’ divine insight and a precursor to the shift from the old covenant (Judaism) to the new covenant (Christianity).
  4. Connection to Biblical Figures: The Temple Mount is associated with various biblical figures and events important to Christianity, such as King David, King Solomon, and the Prophet Isaiah. These connections further establish the Temple Mount’s importance within the Christian faith.
  5. Theological Significance: For Christians, the Temple Mount is also important due to its connection to the concept of God’s presence. The Temple was believed to be the dwelling place of God on Earth, and its destruction symbolized the transition to a new understanding of God’s presence in the world – through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

While the Temple Mount is not as central to Christian worship as it is to Judaism and Islam, its historical and theological significance within Christianity cannot be understated. The site continues to draw Christian pilgrims and visitors who seek to connect with the life and teachings of Jesus and the roots of their faith.

Is the Temple Mount the Same as Mount Zion?

The Temple Mount and Mount Zion are not the same, although both are important sites in Jerusalem with deep religious and historical importance. They are located in different parts of the city and hold distinct meanings for the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The Temple Mount, as previously discussed, is an elevated platform in the Old City of Jerusalem that once housed the First and Second Temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism and holds significance for Christians and Muslims. The Temple Mount is currently home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both prominent Islamic structures.

On the other hand, Mount Zion is a hill located just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, to the southwest of the Temple Mount. In biblical texts, Mount Zion is often used to refer to the city of Jerusalem as a whole, but over time, the term has become associated specifically with this hill. Mount Zion is a significant site for Jews and Christians for several reasons.

For Jews, Mount Zion is the traditional location of King David’s tomb, making it an important site for Jewish history and heritage.

Mount Zion is significant for Christians because it is believed to be the location of the Last Supper (the Cenacle) and the Dormition Abbey, commemorating the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven. The hill also connects to early Christianity, as it was the site of the first Christian church in Jerusalem, the Church of the Apostles.

The Knights Templar and the Temple Mount

The Knights Templar, originally known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, was a Christian military order founded in 1119 CE. Their primary mission was to protect Christian pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. The order gained its name from its association with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where it established its headquarters.

The Knights Templar chose to establish their base on the Temple Mount due to its religious significance and strategic location. They believed that by doing so, they would be closer to God and better able to fulfill their mission. The Templars constructed several buildings on the Temple Mount, including their headquarters and a church known as the Temple of Solomon.

The order gained significant political and economic power over time, amassing vast wealth and influence throughout Europe. This ultimately led to their downfall, as they became a target for persecution by both secular and religious authorities. The Knights Templar were disbanded in 1312 CE, and their remaining members were either executed or absorbed into other religious orders.

What Did the Knights Templar Find at Temple Mount?

There is much speculation and debate about what the Knights Templar may have discovered during their time at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. While no definitive evidence has been found to confirm these theories, various claims and legends persist, capturing the imagination of historians and enthusiasts alike. Some of the most popular ideas about what the Knights Templar may have found at the Temple Mount include:

  • The Ark of the Covenant: According to some theories, the Knights Templar discovered the Ark of the Covenant, a sacred artifact containing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, which had been lost since the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. Yet, no solid evidence exists to support this claim.
  • The Holy Grail: The Holy Grail, a legendary relic believed to be the chalice used by Jesus during the Last Supper, is another artifact that the Knights Templar are rumored to have found. Some theories suggest that they discovered the Grail hidden beneath the Temple Mount and took it back to Europe, where its whereabouts remain unknown. Again, there is no concrete evidence to support this theory.
  • Ancient Texts and Knowledge: Some historians believe the Knights Templar may have discovered ancient religious texts or secret knowledge hidden beneath the Temple Mount. This information could have included early Christian manuscripts, documents about the life of Jesus, or even esoteric teachings from the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah. Still, no such records have been found to support these claims.
  • Architectural and Engineering Techniques: It is more plausible that the Knights Templar gained knowledge of advanced architectural and engineering techniques from their time on the Temple Mount. These skills could have been used to build their impressive fortifications and structures across Europe and the Holy Land.

While these theories about the Knights Templar’s discoveries at the Temple Mount remain speculative, they continue to fuel interest in the enigmatic order and their connection to the sacred site. Despite extensive research and archaeological excavations, the true extent of the Templars’ findings at the Temple Mount remains shrouded in mystery.

Why is There a Mosque on the Temple Mount?

Islam arrived in Jerusalem in the 7th century CE during the Arab conquests. The Umayyad Caliphate, the first major Islamic dynasty, constructed two significant Islamic structures on the Temple Mount: the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, was built in 705 CE. It was constructed on the southern end of the Temple Mount to accommodate the growing number of Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem. The mosque has been rebuilt and renovated several times over the centuries, most recently following an earthquake in 1927.

The Dome of the Rock, an iconic Islamic shrine, was built in 691 CE by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik. The shrine is not a mosque but is often mistakenly referred to as such due to its proximity to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Dome of the Rock was constructed over the Foundation Stone, which holds great significance for all three Abrahamic faiths. For Muslims, it marks the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven during the Night Journey.

These two Islamic structures have remained on the Temple Mount since their construction, and their presence is a testament to the site’s shared history and religious significance for Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

Contemporary Issues Surrounding the Temple Mount Jerusalem 

The Temple Mount has been a source of contention between Israelis and Palestinians, as both groups claim sovereignty over the site. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jordan assumed control over the Temple Mount and the rest of East Jerusalem. However, during the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which has been under Israeli control since then.

Despite Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, they allowed the Islamic Waqf, a religious trust, to maintain administrative control over the Temple Mount. This agreement, referred to as the “status quo,” permits Muslims to worship at both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Meanwhile, Jews and Christians can visit the site, but they are not allowed to engage in prayer there. 

Political tensions have occasionally disrupted this delicate balance, leading to violence and unrest. Over the years, there have been calls from some Jewish and Christian groups to rebuild the Third Temple, which has further complicated the situation and heightened tensions between religious communities.

Can Non-Muslims Visit the Temple Mount?

Yes, non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Temple Mount, but specific guidelines and restrictions are in place. The site is managed by the Islamic Waqf, a religious trust, under an arrangement known as the “status quo” that has been in place since the Israeli capture of the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967. 

Non-Muslim visitors can access the Temple Mount through the Mughrabi Gate near the Western Wall Plaza. All other gates are reserved exclusively for Muslim worshippers. It is important to note that non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock, as these are considered sacred Islamic spaces.

Visiting hours for non-Muslims are limited and subject to change depending on the time of year and current security conditions. Typically, the Temple Mount is open to non-Muslim visitors from Sunday to Thursday, during two separate time slots: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The site is closed to non-Muslims on Fridays, Saturdays, and Muslim holidays.

In addition to these restrictions, non-Muslim visitors must adhere to a strict code of conduct and dress modestly while on the Temple Mount. This includes covering one’s shoulders, knees, and, in some cases, head. Visitors should also refrain from engaging in any religious rituals or overt displays of religious symbols, as these acts are prohibited for non-Muslims on the site.

It is highly recommended that non-Muslim visitors be aware of the rules and respect the site’s religious sensitivities to ensure a peaceful and respectful visit.


The Temple Mount in Jerusalem remains a site of profound religious and historical significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Its storied past, including the intriguing connection to the Knights Templar, continues to fascinate scholars and history enthusiasts alike. The ongoing tensions and controversies surrounding the Israel Temple Mount, such as the presence of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, underscore the complex and intertwined histories of the three Abrahamic faiths.

As we move forward, it is crucial to acknowledge the shared history and significance of the Temple Mount for all three faiths. Fostering mutual understanding, respect, and dialogue between these communities will be essential in preserving the site’s rich history and ensuring a peaceful future for the sacred ground at Jerusalem’s heart.