The modest Omar Mosque is was built in the 12th century directly across from the main entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The mosque is named for the 7th-century caliph Omar, whose actions after his takeover of Jerusalem ensured the Church of Holy Sepulchre remained open to Christian worship. Map.
After a brief and bloodless seige, Muslims seized control of Jerusalem from the Byzantines in February 638. Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab accepted the city’s surrender from Patriarch Sophronius in person. Omar was shown the great Church of the Holy Sepulchre and offered a place to pray in it, but he refused.
He knew that if he prayed in the church, it would set a precedent that would lead to the building’s transformation into a mosque. He instead prayed on the steps outside, allowing the church to remain a Christian holy place. The Omar Mosque was built near the site of these events in 1193 by Saladin’s son Aphdal Ali. The location is not exact, for the entrance to the Church was on the east in Omar’s time; the present entrance was only inaugurated in the 11th century.