Walking along the Eastern Wall of the Umayyad Mosque before the Friday Prayer.
The Umayyad Mosque stands on a site that has been previously occupied by an Aramaean temple of Hadad, a Roman Temple of Jupiter and finally a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. When Muslim armies entered Damascus, they established a mosque in the east side of the temple, leaving the Church intact. For more than seventy years, Muslims and Christians prayed side by side inside the walls of the Temple. They used the same main gate as an entrance; Muslims prayed on the east side and Christians prayed on the west side. In 705, the Caliph of Damascus, now the capital of the world's largest empire, wanted to build a huge new mosque and asked Christian leaders to cede their share of the land to him. After long negotiations, the Christians accepted the Caliph's offer to compensate them with four new churches; among them is the famous Mariamiyyah Church (Church of Mary) in Bab Sharqi.