Solomon’s Stables & Jesus’s Cradle
Many consider the Temple Mount, where the Second Holy Temple of the Jews stood in the time of Jesus, to be the very heart of Jerusalem. Of particular interest to Christian pilgrims on Holy Land tours are the areas of the Temple Mount known as Solomon’s Stables and Jesus’ Cradle.
Much of the Temple Mount’s splendor is hidden deep underground in a large complex of tunnels and halls. Among these is a series of arched vaults called Solomon’s Stables, so called because the Crusaders, who took control of the area from the Muslims in the 11th century, believed that this is where King Solomon, who had administered the construction of the First Temple, kept his unusually large assembly of horses.
In actuality, the arches served to support an expansion of the Temple Mount that Herod the Great built in the 1st century BC. Over a millennium later, The Knights Templar, an elite fighting force during the Crusades, actually did stable their horses here for some time.
In 1996, the Waqf, the Islamic organization in charge of the Temple Mount today, built a large underground mosque known as Marwani Prayer Hall at the site of Solomon’s Stables. It is no simple matter for non-Muslims to gain access to the site today.
Near the northern entrance of Solomon’s Stables is a small room known as Jesus’ Cradle. Today, it is a place of Muslim worship. According to Muslim tradition, this is the spot where the infant Jesus was presented at the Temple by his mother Mary. Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet and claim that this location was given to them by Christians. Many believe that there was once a church on this site.