First of all, we need to be sure what we mean by the Temple of Solomon. This was a building on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Middle Ages. Under Muslim rule, it was the Al Aqsa mosque and most of it was built, certainly what could be seen above ground, by Jerusalem’s Muslim rulers from the 7th century onwards.
But when the crusaders stormed the city in 1099, they believed the Al Aqsa mosque was the remains of the Temple of Solomon – that is, the first Jewish Temple built in Jerusalem. Most of the first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. Then the temple was rebuilt, by Herod amongst others. But the Romans flattened the second temple after the Jewish revolt in 79 AD.
Why the Temple of Solomon?
By the time the Templars were founded around 1118, the Christian king of Jerusalem had been using the Al Aqsa as a palace. But from the outset, the Templars expressed a strong desire to be based in the Temple of Solomon (or Al Aqsa if you prefer)
So, why were the Templars so keen to be based in the Temple of Solomon? There are various theories:
- Solomon’s treasure and that of other kings of Jerusalem lay buried underground
- The Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets given to Moses, had disappeared centuries ago. Maybe it was underneath the Temple of Solomon. If so, its awesome power could be used by the Templars
- The Turin Shroud. The Holy Grail. The Holy Lance. The Crown of Thorns. Yes….could they have been discovered by the Templars once they moved in
- The head of John the Baptist – well, it had to be somewhere!
Note that during the trials that ended the Templar order in 1307, they were accused of worshipping a head – some say that of a cat, others a three-faced god and yet others – John the Baptist. Could it have been unearthed from beneath the Temple of Solomon?
There is a theory that when the crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, they discovered ancient secrets that had to be guarded – kept secret maybe.
The Templars were specifically founded to keep these secrets under lock and key – away from the eyes of the faithful. What could be so terrifying to the church that it needed to set up an order of military monks?
Some allege it was the Holy Grail – which was neither a platter nor a cup but the relics of Mary Magdalene who had married Jesus and borne him a child after his crucifixion. Those of you who have read the Da Vinci Code will know that the child was a girl and established a divine blood line to the present day.
And if – just if – the Templars really had found great treasures under the Temple of Solomon and spirited them away – what happened to this treasure?
Well, in 1307 when the king of France decided to shut down the Templars and seize their money to clear his debts, knights were seen scurrying out of the great Temple building in Paris with carts groaning under the weight of large sacks. They made their way to the port of La Rochelle and the treasure, Templar knights and the Templar fleet of ships were never seen again.