The Templar headquarters at Jerusalem in Crusader times

"In 1118 or 1119 king Baldwin II gave the group of proto-Templars a temporary home in his residence in the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple platform, believed by the Latins to have been the Temple of Solomon. The canons of the Temple of the Lord (the Dome of the Rock) gave them a square near the al-Aqsa to celebrate their offices." What was this location like?

"At some point during the 1120s, when Baldwin II moved the royal residence next to the Tower of David on the west side of the city, the proto-Templars, were able to take over the Temple of Solomon entirely, although it is unlikely that its condition had greatly improved since the early years of the century when Baldwin I, desperate for money, had sold the lead from the al-Aqsa roof. (...)

The Templar headquarters at the southern end of the Haram al-Sharif (...) was entered by the Beautiful Gate on the western side, close to the Temple of the Lord (the present day Dome of the Rock, TN). The Templars had taken over the al-Aqsa mosque (...), after Baldwin II had moved to the other side of the city and had repaired the damage done by his predecessor. By the 1160s, they had built a new cloister to the west of the al-Aqsa, enclosed by vaulted buildings which included what Theoderic calls a new palace, and they were in the process of erecting a church that Theoderic says was ‘of magnificent size and workmanship’, although it was unfinished at the time of his visit. 

They  had also developed the area to the east with houses, halls and water supplies, perhaps in a manner not dissimilar to the compound of the Temple of the Lord. Below the south-east corner was a large vaulted area, (the "Stables of Solomon", TN) the exact size of which is now difficult to determine, but which was used for stabling. (...) The whole quarter was well fortified, strengthened by the order’s construction of a barbican to the south which protected the two gates on that side.

Building on this scale seems to have persuaded the Templars to establish their own workshop, probably located in the south-east corner above the stables. The sculptural fragments that survive indicate that the order had recruited craftsmen of high skill, possibly from among the Italians who had worked on the Holy Sepulchre, where there was now less demand for their labour (the rebuilding of which having been completed in 1149, TN). The results fully justified Theoderic’s praise: the decoration of the buildings must have been characterised by foliate sculpture of great originality, at the centre of which were acanthus leaves carved in a manner suggestive of wet drapery. This does not seem to have been primarily a commercial atelier. Indeed, there seems to have been quite enough work to keep it fully occupied but, when the opportunity arose, it may also have produced pieces for other clients as well."

This blog quotes sections, slightly edited, from The Crusader States by Malcom Barber, (2012, p 161, 251-252), Yale University Press. The illustration shows a map of Jerusalem in crusader times, source

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