The Islamic Waqf announced on Sunday that renovation work has been resumed at the Al Marwani mosque, otherwise known as Solomon’s Stables, in the Temple Mount. The Waqf has assumed custodianship over the holy site and often into making illegal unilateral decisions the mount.
Renovation work on the 600 square yard complex lies in stark contrast to the status quo on the Temple Mount.
This development comes shortly after the opening of the Gate of Mercy. Many are concerned that the renovation is happening without the supervision of the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
Solomon’s Stables are an underground vaulted space that is now used by local Muslims for prayer. The area is at the bottom of a set of stairs that leads down from the al-Aqsa Mosque, underneath the Temple Mount, to the base of the southern wall of the Mount. Solomon’s Stables are situated 12.5 m (41 ft) underneath the courtyard on the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount. The enclave features twelve rows of pillars and arches. Back in 1996, the Waqf converted the space into a prayer area. They did this by installing lights and floor tiles which compromised the integrity of the structure’s walls.
The structure is believed to have been constructed by King Herod as an extension of the platform of the Temple Mount southward onto the Ophel. Herod’s engineers built the massive platform above the slopes of the Temple Mount. They did this by erecting a substructure that consisted of a series of vaulted arches to reduce pressure on the retaining walls. The vaults are supported by 88 pillars resting on enormous Herodian blocks and divided into 12 rows of galleries”, were originally storage spaces for the Second Temple. Tourists are rarely ever allowed to enter the spaces with Herodian finishes.
By and large, the underground space remained empty with the exception of the Crusader rule over Jerusalem. The Crusaders transitioned it into a stable for their cavalry. The rings for tethering horses can still remain on several of the pillars -hence the term ‘Solomon’s Stables’.