The Ummayad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. It was built after the Arab conquest of Damascus, circa 630, on the site of a Christian basilica dedicated to John the Baptist, a basilica built circa 310 during the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine I. The mosque holds a shrine which still today contains the head of John the Baptist, honored as a prophet by both Christians and Muslims alike. In 2001 Pope John Paul II visited the mosque, primarily to visit the relics of John the Baptist. It was the first time a Pope paid a visit to a mosque.
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