Julie Israel 36 Comments

Temple Mount is one of the most important religious sites in the world. Located on Temple Mount is the Dome of the Rock, one of the most recognizable structures in Jerusalem. The golden dome of Dome of the Rock is seen from the Western Wall, Mount of Olives, Tower of David, and many of Jerusalem’s city streets.

A visit to Temple Mount is a popular activity on many tourist’s itineraries, but getting in is not so easy. Visiting hours are limited, there are restrictions for non-Muslims, and lines can be long.

Here are the things you should know before going to Temple Mount.

Visiting Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock

What is Temple Mount?

Temple Mount is a large platform constructed on top of one of the hills in the old city of Jerusalem. It is the holiest site in the world in Judaism, the third holiest site in the world in Islam (after Mecca and Medina), and an important site for Christians.

For Jewish people, Temple Mount is also called Mount Moriah. It is here that the first two Temples were built and this is the location for the Holy of Holies. To avoid walking on the Holy of Holies, many Jewish people will not walk on Temple Mount, since the exact location of the Holy of Holies is not known. Jewish people now pray at the Western Wall, which structurally is a retaining wall for Temple Mount.

For Muslims, Temple Mount is known as the Noble Sanctuary or Haram al-Sharif. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the 3rd holiest site in the world in Islam. The Dome of the Rock is a shrine that contains the Foundation Stone and marks the spot where Muhammad ascended into heaven. Muslims once faced this place to pray, until Muhammad changed the direction of prayers to Mecca after a revelation from Allah.

Dome of the Rock April

Controversy over Temple Mount

Until the mid-twentieth century, non-Muslims were not permitted on Temple Mount. Since 1967, non-Muslims have been permitted to enter the site but prayer is forbidden.

Visiting Hours

For non-Muslim visitors, Temple Mount can be visited Sunday through Thursday:

  • Summer: April through September: 8:30 – 10:30 am and 1:30 – 2:30 pm
  • Winter: October through March: 7:30 – 10:30 am and 12:30 – 1:30 pm

Temple Mount is closed to tourists on Fridays, Saturdays, and during Muslim holidays. Sometimes Temple Mount can close without notice. 

During peak season, plan on arriving at least an hour early since queues can be long and only limited numbers of people are allowed to enter.

There is no charge to visit Temple Mount.

Where to Enter Temple Mount

The entrance for visitors is via the wooden walkway that is seen from the Western Wall. Access to this walkway is outside of the Western Wall area, near the Dung Gate of the old city of Jerusalem. Here you will go through security, passing through metal detectors and sending your belongings through x-ray scanners. Ascend the long, wooden platform to enter through the Bab al-Maghariba gate.

Are Jewish People Permitted to Enter Temple Mount?

Yes, Jewish people are permitted to enter Temple Mount, but prayer is not allowed, and religious artifacts cannot be brought onto the site. There is some controversy over whether or not Jewish people should enter Temple Mount. There is a Jewish law that forbids Jews from entering this site so they do not set foot on the “Holy of Holies,” located where the first two Temples stood. Despite the law, nowadays more and more Jewish people are visiting Temple Mount.

Update: Recently, we we received a comment that Jewish prayer is allowed, if performed inconspicuously. You can also learn more here.

Dress Code

Modest dress is required. Men should wear long pants and a shirt that covers their shoulders. Women need long pants or a long skirt with a shirt that covers their shoulders and elbows. Clothes should be loose fitting. Sandals are permitted. A head scarf is not necessary.

While we were here, a young woman was asked to leave because her pants were too tight.

Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque

Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa Mosque. We were scolded for just trying to peek inside of the Dome of the Rock.

About Our Experience

Temple Mount SelfieAfter hearing stories of people getting turned away for not dressing appropriately or waiting in very long lines, we got very lucky. Tim and I visited Temple Mount in mid-April on a Wednesday. We arrived at 10:30, just a half hour before closing time for the morning. There was no line, we breezed right through security, and passed by several men armed with semi-automatic rifles before walking up the wooden ramp to the entrance gate. Unsure if a head scarf was necessary, I wore a scarf over my head, just in case.

Walking around the large, open area of Temple Mount was calm, quiet, and peaceful…much different from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem’s streets. There were small groups of other tourists walking around as well as groups of Muslims. I took my head scarf off since it was not necessary.

Tim and I walked past Al-Aqsa Mosque and then up to Dome of the Rock. The sun had just come out and this building is beautiful when illuminated by sunlight. Tim and I took our time walking the circumference of the Dome of the Rock, taking photos, and people watching. Several Muslim men approached us, giving us small books about Islam.

Five minutes before 11, security guards began politely telling people it was time to exit the site.

Temple Mount was one of our favorite spots in Jerusalem. Maybe it is because the Dome of the Rock is gorgeous and it was awesome to see it up close. Or maybe it is because we passed all of the rules to enter Temple Mount, a place that is notorious for denying people entry. Prior to our visit, I had read horror stories about how people got turned away for “looking too Jewish” or not wearing the right clothing, so I knew it was possible that we could get turned away, also.

If you get the chance to visit Temple Mount while in Jerusalem, it is worth it!

Photo Tour

How to Visit Temple Mount

Temple Mount after the rain

Dome of the Rock Side View

Temple Mount Jerusalem

Final Tips

Arrive early! Queues can be very long during peak season.

Do not bring any religious artifacts with you, Christian or Jewish. If security finds these in your bag or on your person you can be denied entrance.

Dress modestly. Again, not following this rule can deny you entrance.

There are groups of security guards throughout Temple Mount, all armed with rifles. Do not take their photos! You will be asked to delete them from your camera.

More Information about Israel

Planning a trip to Israel? Read all of our articles in our Israel Travel Guide.

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How to Visit Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem


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Comments 36

  1. Consider updating the article to reflect a change: Jewish prayer, if performed relatively unobtrusively, is permitted by the police. Indeed, there are regular morning and afternoon prayers in religious quorums, though without religious garb (phylacteries and tallit). This has been going on unofficially for a while, and the Israeli Supreme Court has now made this legal, as well.

    On another note, Jewish law mandates the death penalty for any non-Jews getting too close to the peak, let alone the Dome of the Rock. So, non-Jews respectful of Jewish law are advised to follow the circuitous trail taken by religious Jews.

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  2. If security personnel with rifles were seen on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, they were Israeli police. The Waqf security guards are not allowed to be armed and no firearms are permitted on the site except those carried by Israeli police. The persons armed with “semi-automatic rifles” (actually they are automatic weapons) at the entrance to the walkway would be Israeli Border Guards, a component of the National Police.

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      We used Desert Eco Tours for our guide to Jordan. While we were in Israel, we did not have a guide, we just used taxis to get around and did the sightseeing on our own. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hello,
    Next month, I am going to Jerusalem to do a research about the ceramics of the Dome of the Rock. I am writing to ask if I will be allowed to take pictures or do I need an official permission? I am Muslim if it changes something.
    I would like also to take pictures of the Armenian Cathedral of St James. Do you think I will be allowed to?
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

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      Hello Khalida. I took all of the photos that you see in this article without permission, so yes, you should be able to take photos at Dome of the Rock. I did not go to the Armenian Cathedral of St. James so I do not know for sure if they allow photos. However, at each church/cathedral I visited in Jerusalem I was permitted to take photos for free, without special permission. I hope you have a great time in Jerusalem! Cheers, Julie

  4. We visited today and were able to enter both buildings. However it had to be set up by our guide months in advance and required the Jordanian government to make the request to the Israeli govt. We entered through a different gate where tourists are not normally permitted. However our escort who is an official with an office on the mount was very friendly and took us into the well of souls and allowed us to take as many photos and videos as we wanted. We of course were respectful of our hosts. I know this is rare, but it was an amazing experience. As we entered the guards were running others away who were near the entrance. We were there early in the day so the Dome and mosque were virtually empty. So as a non Muslim I was able to enter, but it required special contacts and a lengthy process set up by my guide. My impression is that this isn’t available to most, but has to do with special relationships, since a certain level of trust is involved.

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      Thanks for this info! I had no idea that this was even possible, and what an amazing experience. Thanks again for sharing! Cheers, Julie

    2. Andrew I will be traveling with Marnatha Tours Sept 2021. I would love to enter the Dome of the Rock to see the Foundation Stone. Who should I contact to make these arrangements?

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    3. I am going with a tour group, Maranatha Tours Oct 10-19, 2021. We will visit Old City Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock on Monday Oct 18, 2021. Our tour guide will be Mr. Malcom Carter. Is it possible for him or Maranatha Tours to arrange a tour of the inside of the Dome of the Rock and the Foundation Stone? How much does it cost? Thank you for your assistance.

  5. That’s why Muslims should not contol the Holy Land. They won’t let non-Muslims into the Dome of the Rock. If they controlled all of the Holy Land, they wouldn’t let us visit anything.

  6. Dear friends,

    Everywhere I read that access to the inside of the Dome of the Rock is restricted to Moslems. However, there is a video of a large LDS (Mormon) group that was able even to enter the Well of Souls, which is the cave beneath the Rock. Search for the Holyoaks in the Holyland (sorry, I don’t have the link). It makes me think that a little respect (or maybe a little cash) really goes a long way in Jerusalem, just like it always has.

    Of course, the great irony here is that this most holy place is neither the site of the old Temple (pick one), nor does it have anything whatsoever to do with Mohammed. No, the cave beneath the Dome is the family crypt of one Joseph of Arimathea. In other words, it is the tomb of Christ.

    1. That is absolutely incorrect. I suggest you do your research. The cave beneath the dome of the rock is where Prophet Mohamed Peace Be Upon Him went up to heaven from.

  7. Dear friends,

    Everywhere I read that access to the space inside the Dome is restricted. How is it, then, that a big group of Mormons (see the Holyoaks in the Holy land) are able to do so? They even entered the Well of Souls, which is the cave beneath the Rock, took pictures and everything.

  8. I was have been there 5 days ago. I was there with my 12 years old dougther. And when we in front of the dome of the rock ( up the stairs), because verry happy that we can be there my dougther tooked a photo and she jumped. And the guard get angry to us and said were forbidden to jump there. I still searching until now, why ? Do you know about this julie…thank you so much.

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  9. Cell phones are allowed, cameras are allowed. Tablets are NOT allowed, they will keep it in a cubby hole for you on your return. I got in line at 7am so i could take pics without a lot of people in them, that worked for me. Did not know that Jewish people get in line in front of you, but just to go to a special place on the ramp to pray while they face the Wall. There is a webcam on the wall 24/7. I was there May 2017.

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  10. My wife an I just reurned from Jerusalem, where we found it impossible to enter onto Temple Mount. We are Christians and therefore should not be a part of the recent problems between Jews and Muslims! The armed guards would lie to us about the times of the site being open, thus three times foiling our entering it! They would say that the site is open until 1:30 PM, then when we arrived earlier they woyld say that actually it was closed , but a huge que of people were waiting to enter it from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM. Other visiting Christians, I saw, were also deflected from entrance. I find it unjust that Palistinians recently shot Israel police, then seemingly got their way in preventing the entarnce of Christians and Jews!
    That would be like Canada paying Al Quada’s Omar Khadr 10.5 million, who killed at least one American soldier – and he ended up rich from it! Once again, justice has not been served!

  11. I was with a tour group in 1989. We went into both the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. Before entering the Dome, there were a rank of cubbyholes where you could put your shoes. (Remember in Exodus, God saying to Moses, “Take off your shoes for the ground you stand on is holy.” It’s the same idea.) There was a place for washing feet. The floor of the Dome is carpeted with large, beautiful “Persian” carpets that felt warm and prickly to bare feet. The Rock his huge and plain in the middle of this octagon of terrifically ornate tile walls. It is the bare mountain top, surrounded by artistry. Around the rock is a sort of retaining wall–I remember it as wooden and low enough I could easily see over it to where spotlights shown on the rock. At one side there is a small entry with a few steps downward under the edge, sort of a niche, in the rock. There are mythologies about the meaning of this geological divot.
    Of the mosque I remember less. We stayed back. The room was darker with light coming in high windows. The floor was carpeted. Many men were on their knees bowing to the East. A year later, October of 1990, 20 Palestinians were shot and killed in the mosque and over a hundred–by some accounts, many hundred were injured. Palestinians blame a group of Zionists for starting a fracas by trying to begin the building of a “Third Temple” upon the Foundation Stone. The Israelis blame Palestinians for throwing rocks. All the deaths were Palestinian.

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      Hello Kathryn. Thank you for sharing your experience, especially for those of us who are not permitted to enter the Dome of the Rock. This is a site with lots of tension and controversy…you are lucky you got to see it when you did. Cheers, Julie

  12. I have been in the mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and I am not Muslim. It was 1960 on a German tour when I was in 9th grade. Don’t remember much about Al Aska but inside the Dome there is a circular center which is almost totally taken up by a huge, flat, topped rock. There was a narrow track around the rock on ground level next to the walls of the circular interior of the Dome of the Rock. Many clear, blown glass round lights were hung above the rock in a circular design. You were not allowed on the rock, of course. I do not recall that the interior of the dome was very fancy, but the history involved gave the place a sense of solemnity and awe.

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  13. Hi Julie,

    I will be traveling to Israel in June and wanted to know if you can recommend any full day tours in Jerusalem. I have been quoted different prices from several local tour guides but is seems the price is expensive. I thank you for the detailed information you posted on your experience and hope you can give me suggestions on tour guides/ packages.

    Thank you,

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      Hello Alexa. I’m sorry, I do not have any recommendations for full day tours in Jerusalem. We did everything on our own so we did not hire a guide. I am not surprised that you have been quoted expensive prices…our transportation costs to and from Tel Aviv were also very expensive. Cheers, Julie

  14. Dear Julie,
    Appreciate your insights, but I would like to make a couple corrections to your post. First of all, the Arab waqf and their Jordanian authority practice religious apartheid on the most holiest location for Judaism and a site of religious importance for Christianity. Often times, religious Jews are denied entry or are accosted by screaming Muslims hurling chants of “Allau Akhbar”. If allowed on the amount, they are escorted by an Israeli policeman and a Palestinian Arab guard and are rushed to the exit. It is only the Israelis who carry arms and not the Arabs as you incorrectly stated. The Israelis are responsible for security since Imams in the mosques have been known to inflame their worshippers into throwing rocks down to Jews and non-Jews below who are praying at the wall. Welcome to the usual “Jim Crow” laws of Idlamic Sharia.

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  15. No one should be banned from entering the Dome of the Rock and seeing the Flundation Stone. To make such a restriction is a blatant example of intolerance.

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      Thank you for your opinion. You are right, non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the Dome of the Rock. In fact, we were not even allowed to try to look inside of it.

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