photo 42 of 151
Great Mosque of Damascus (Umayyad Mosque): The main mihrab, Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.

The main mihrab, Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.

The main mihrab, or niche in the wall that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The wall in which a mihrab appears is thus the "qibla wall." 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