The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus

Art, Faith and Empire in Early Islam

by Alain George


Format: Hardback (240x290mm)
Published: June 2021
Pages: 260
ISBN: 9781909942455


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‘For the first time we have a book which does full justice to the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.’ -Hugh Kennedy, author of The Caliphate


The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus is one of the oldest continuously used religious sites in the world. The mosque we see today was built in 705 by the Umayyad caliph al-Walid on top of a 4th-century Christian church which had been erected over a temple of Jupiter. Incredibly, in the recent war the mosque has remained almost unscathed, but over the centuries it was continuously rebuilt, after being damaged by earthquakes and fires.

In this comprehensive biography of the Umayyad Mosque, the author, Alain Fouad George, has explored a wide range of sources to excavate the dense layers of its history and establish what the building looked like when it was first built. George has found new information in three previously untranslated poems written at the time the mosque was built, as well as in descriptions left by medieval scholars. He has also looked carefully at the many photographs and paintings made by 19th-century European travellers, particularly those who recorded the building before the catastrophic fire of 1893.


Alain Fouad George is Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the University of Oxford. He is a historian of Islamic art and architecture with core interests in calligraphy, the arts of the book and early Islam. He is the author of The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy (2010).