The Umayyad Mosque of Damascus is the earliest Islamic monument still extant after the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. As with the Dome of the Rock, the Mosque boasts a large volume of mosaic decoration of the highest quality that is believed to have been carried out by Byzantine artisans given the similarities of the technique and motifs with high-quality Byzantine commissions of the same era. The most notable difference is that there is a complete absence of figural imagery in the Islamic monuments. In the case of the Umayyad Mosque the decoration is particularly intriguing as it depicts a range of landscapes both urban and pastoral, all entirely without living creatures. This has led many commentators to argue that it represents a vision of paradise, with others arguing instead for an idealised representation of Damascus. Whether or not these interpretations are correct, the mosaicists appear familiar with Roman architecture, with porticoed late Roman villas appearing prominently in the decoration, meaning that the mosaics demonstrate a continuity with earlier artistic forms rather than a definitive break with the past. In many ways the decorative scheme is far more conservative than that of the Dome of the Rock, which predates is by over twenty years.
The Temple of Bel as it appears today dates from the C1st-C2nd AD, but stands on a much older cult site near the date palm grove and Eqfa spring that enabled the foundation of a city in the middle of the Syrian desert. Later on the cella of the temple was adapted for use as a Christian church and faint traces of frescoes are still visible on the interior walls. It was also fortified in the middle ages and there was a village within the walls of the compound until the population was removed by the French authorities during their rule of Syria in the 1920s.
These photographs show changes that were made to the temple in order to fortify it in the medieval Islamic era.