The early domes of the Middle Ages, particularly in those areas recently under Byzantine control, were an extension of earlier Roman architecture. The domed church architecture of Italy from the sixth to the eighth centuries followed that of the Byzantine provinces and, although this influence diminishes under Charlemagne, it continued on in Venice, Southern Italy, and Sicily. Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel is a notable exception, being influenced by Byzantine models from Ravenna and Constantinople. The Dome of the Rock, an Umayyad Muslim religious shrine built in Jerusalem, was designed similarly to nearby Byzantine martyria and Christian churches. Domes were also built as part of Muslim palaces, throne halls, pavilions, and baths, and blended elements of both Byzantine and Persian architecture, using both pendentives and squinches. The origin of the crossed-arch dome type is debated, but the earliest known example is from the tenth century at the Great Mosque of Córdoba. In Egypt, a "keel" shaped dome profile was characteristic of Fatimid architecture. The use of squinches became widespread in the Islamic world by the tenth and eleventh centuries. Bulbous domes were used to cover large buildings in Syria after the eleventh century, following an architectural revival there, and the present shape of the Dome of the Rock's dome likely dates from this time.
Christian domes in Romanesque church architecture, especially those of the Holy Roman Empire, are generally octagonal on squinches and hidden externally within crossing towers, beginning around 1050. An example is the church of San Michele Maggiore in Pavia, Italy. St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, with its five domes on pendentives modeled on the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles, was built from 1063 to 1072. Domes on pendentives, apparently based upon Byzantine models, appear in the Aquitaine region of France after the beginning of the Crusades in 1095, such as the abbey church of Fontevrault, where Richard the Lionheart was buried. A series of centrally planned churches were built by the Knights Templar throughout Europe, modeled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with the Dome of the Rock at their Temple Mount headquarters also an influence. Distinctive domes on pendentives were built in Spain during the Reconquista. Also built there were Christian crossed-arch domes similar to that of the earlier Great Mosque of Córdoba, such as at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Torres Del Río. Gothic domes are uncommon due to the use of rib vaults over naves, and with church crossings usually focused instead by a tall steeple, but there are examples of small octagonal crossing domes in cathedrals as the style developed from the Romanesque. The octagonal dome of Florence Cathedral was a result of the expansion plans for that church from the 14th century, a part of efforts in Tuscany to build domes with exposed external profiles.
The muqarnas dome type may have originated in Abbasid Iraq as single brick shells of large squinch-like cells, but it was popular in North Africa and Spain with more intricate cell patterns in stucco on a wooden inner shell. Two outstanding examples from the Moorish palace of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, are the 14th century Hall of the Abencerrajes and Hall of the two Sisters. In 14th century Egypt, the Mamluks began building stone domes, rather than brick, for the tombs of sultans and emirs and would construct hundreds of them over the next two and a half centuries. Externally, their supporting structures are distinguished by chamfered or stepped angles and round windows in a triangular arrangement. A variety of shapes for the dome itself were used, including bulbous, ogee, and keel-shaped, and included carved patterns in spirals, zigzags, and floral designs. Bulbous minarets from Egypt spread to Syria in the 15th century and would influence the use of bulbous domes in the architecture of northwest Europe, having become associated with the Holy Land by pilgrims. In the Low Countries of northwest Europe, multi-story spires with truncated bulbous cupolas supporting smaller cupolas or crowns became popular in the sixteenth century.
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the earliest surviving Islamic building, was completed in 691 by Umayyad caliph Abd Al-Malik. Its design was that of a ciborium, or reliquary, such as those common to Byzantine martyria and the major Christian churches of the city. The rotunda of the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in particular, has a similar design and almost the same dimensions. The dome, a double shell design made of wood, is 20.44 meters in diameter. The dome's bulbous shape "probably dates from the eleventh century." Several restorations since 1958 to address structural damage have resulted in the extensive replacement of tiles, mosaics, ceilings, and walls such that "nearly everything that one sees in this marvelous building was put there in the second half of the twentieth century", but without significant change to its original form and structure. It is currently covered in gilded aluminum.
In addition to religious shrines, domes were used over the audience and throne halls of Umayyad palaces, and as part of porches, pavilions, fountains, towers and the calderia of baths. Blending the architectural features of both the Byzantine and Persian architecture, the domes used both pendentives and squinches and were made in a variety of shapes and materials. A dome stood at the center of the palace-city of Baghdad and, similarly but on a smaller scale, there are literary accounts of a domed audience hall in the palace of Abu Muslim in Merv at the meeting point of four iwans arranged along the cardinal directions.
Muslim palaces included domical halls as early as the eighth century, well before domes became standard elements of mosque architecture. The early eighth century palace of Khirbat al-Minya included a domed gateway. The palace of Qasr Mshatta and a ninth century palace at Samarra included domed throne rooms. A domed structure covered a shallow pool in the main courtyard of the mid eighth century palace of Khirbat al-Mafjar. Similar examples at mosques, such as the domed fountains at the Mosque of Ibn Tulun (destroyed in 987 and replaced with a different structure), at Maarrat al-Numan, in Nishapur, Tripoli, and at the Mosque of Damascus seem to be related to this element of palace architecture, although they were later used as part of ritual ablution.
The calderia of early Islamic bath complexes at Amra, Sarraj, and Anjar were roofed with stone or brick domes. The caldarium of the early Islamic bath at Qasr Amra contains "the most completely preserved astronomical cupola decoration", a decorative idea for bath domes that would long continue in the Islamic world.
The placement of a dome in front of the mihrab of a mosque probably began with the rebuilding of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina by Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid. This was likely to emphasize the place of the ruler, although domes would eventually become focal points of decoration and architectural composition or indicate the direction of prayer. Later developments of this feature would include additional domes oriented axially to the mihrab dome. Byzantine workmen built the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus and its hemispherical dome for al Walid in 705. The dome rests upon an octagonal base formed by squinches. The dome, called the "Dome of the Eagle" or "Dome of the Gable", was originally made of wood but nothing remains of it. It is supposed to have rested upon large cross beams.
Although architecture in the region would decline following the movement of the capital to Iraq under the Abbasids in 750, mosques built after a revival in the late 11th century usually followed the Umayyad model, especially that of the Mosque of Damascus. Domed examples include the mosques at Sarmin (1305-6) and al-Bab (1305). The typical Damascus dome is smooth and supported by a double zone of squinches: four squinches create an eight sided transition that includes eight more squinches, and these create a sixteen-sided drum with windows in alternate sides.