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Great Mosque of Damascus (Umayyad Mosque): Shrine to St John the Baptist, Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.

Shrine to St John the Baptist, Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.

The mosque holds a shrine which still today is said to contain the the head of John the Baptist, honoured by both Christians and Muslims alike. In 2001 Pope John Paul II visited the mosque, primarily to visit the relics of John the Baptist. It was the first time a pope paid a visit to a mosque. Damascus is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and the Umayyad Mosque stands on a site that has been considered sacred ground for at least 3,000 years. The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, being completed in 715 AD. The spot where the mosque now stands was a temple of Hadad in the Aramean era. The site was later a temple of Jupiter in the Roman era, then a Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist in the Byzantine era, before finally becoming a mosque.

Credit: jemasmith / Flickr