Skip to main content

Distributed for Gingko Library

The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus

Art, Faith and Empire in Early Islam

An expansive illustrated history of the historic Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

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 CE by the Umayyad caliph al-Walid on top of a fourth-century Christian church that had been erected over a temple of Jupiter. Incredibly, despite the recent war, the mosque has remained almost unscathed, but over the centuries has been continuously rebuilt after damage from earthquakes and fires. In this comprehensive biography of the Umayyad Mosque, Alain George explores a wide range of sources to excavate the dense layers of the mosque’s history, also uncovering what the structure looked like when it was first built with its impressive marble and mosaic-clad walls. George incorporates a range of sources, including new information he found in three previously untranslated poems written at the time the mosque was built, as well as in descriptions left by medieval scholars. He also looks carefully at the many photographs and paintings made by nineteenth-century European travelers, particularly those who recorded the building before the catastrophic fire of 1893.

264 pages | 150 color plates | 9 1/2 x 11 3/4

Architecture: Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Architecture

Art: Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Art

Gingko Library image

View all books from Gingko Library


"Although George’s book is not the first study of the building, nor likely to be the last, his book achieves a synthesis of earlier literature that is unprecedented in scope. Richly illustrated and handsomely produced, it is testament to the author’s creativity and resourcefulness, which have resulted in a landmark study."

Burlington Magazine



"Visually sumptuous, meticulously-researched . . . George’s argument is itself palimpsestic in its layered and complex weaving together of a range of sources of dazzling variety, from eighth-century poetic panegyrics written in praise of the mosque, documentary sources like the Sana‘a palimpsest of the Qur’an, early Islamic administrative papyri from Aphrodito in Egypt, to later medieval chronicles."


“This is an important study that brings many fresh insights to a building that has already generated much scholarship. George is sensitive to the need to resolve discontinuities between primary textual accounts and the physical record of the standing structures and excavated material. This book will be read by specialists, but will also gain a wider readership among researchers engaged with similar problems in other regions and historical periods.”

Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria, Canada

“For the first time we have a book which does full justice to the Umayyad mosque in Damascus. George has used text, archaeology and perhaps most revealingly, old photographs to produce a rich scholarly, readable and exciting account of the mosque. This book marks a major advance in our understanding of the building.”

Hugh Kennedy, London University

“George provides a vivid picture of the Umayyad mosque as it was designed and erected at the very beginning of the eighth century. This book is a scientific and aesthetic tour de force and will become an indispensable reference for historians and architecture lovers.”

Mathieu Tillier, Université Paris-Sorbonne

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press