Minaret of the Bride, Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.
Minaret of the Bride
The reason for its name is attributed according to a popular tradition to a certain businessman's daughter who became the king's bride after she provided him with enough lead to cover the roof of the minaret. She gave him the lead after he agreed to pay her the weight of the lead in gold, due to the scarcity of the material in Damascus. This convinced her that he was a man of his word and she donated the lead free of charge. The mosque minaret was thereafter given the name of 'the bride' (Al Arus) who had provided its leaden covering.
The Minaret was built by Caliph al-Walid ibn Abdel-Malek in the center of the northern wall of the Mosque. It was restored a second time by Saladin after a fire that occured in 1174. During the Memluk period, the minaret was used to relay the message to the people of Cairo that the Mongols were about to invade from the north.
Source: E. Claire Grimes, A guide to Damascus, Avicenne Bookshop, 1997
Damascus is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and the Umayyad Mosque stands on a site that has been considered sacred ground for at least 3,000 years. The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, being completed in 715 AD. The spot where the mosque now stands was a temple of Hadad in the Aramean era. The site was later a temple of Jupiter in the Roman era, then a Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist in the Byzantine era, before finally becoming a mosque.
During his 10-year reign as caliph in the beginning of the eighth century al-Walid bin Abd al-Malik addressed the citizens of Damascus: “Inhabitants of Damascus, four things give you marked superiority over the rest of the world: your climate, your water, your fruits and your baths. To these I wanted to add a fifth: this mosque.”