Damascus’s role as a starting point for the yearly pilgrimage, or hajj,
adds to the city’s religious character. During the Ayyubid period, a suburb known as al-Maydan grew around the hajj
road and became an important centre for the production of religious art. Islamic religious art in the Atabeg
and Ayyubid periods is most eloquently expressed in mosque
architecture and illuminated Qur’ans. Masonry and woodwork on minarets, mihrabs
exemplify this pre-eminence.