Very few places in the world have the same religious significance to Muslims as the City of Makkah (i.e., Mecca) in the Makkah Province. Every year, approximately 13 million Muslims from all parts of the globe visit the Blessed City.
Makkah is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of God Be Upon Him) and the location of Al Masjid Al Haram (the Grand Mosque), at the centre of which is the Holy Kaaba.
So, book your accommodation at Anjum Hotel Makkah or another hotel in Makkah and prepare for your visit to Makkah by reading the following list of the top Makkah destinations.
The Great Mosque of Makkah, also known as Al Masjid Al-Haram or simply as The Haram, is the principal mosque of Makkah.
The current structure of the Great Mosque is far from the original that stood on the site. Initially, a wall was built around the Kaaba. Succeeding caliphs added ceilings and columns, among other things, to the stand-alone walls.
Spread over 88.2 acres, the current iteration of The Haram can accommodate up to four million Hajj pilgrims. The Haram has seen its capacity increase significantly through various expansion projects, including the King Abdullah extension, a USD 22 billion project that began in 2008. The new King Abdulaziz Gate, a renovation of one of The Haram’s old gates, is one of the outcomes of the King Abdullah extension project.
Other rulers repositioned the walls so the Kaaba could lie at the center of the mosque, rebuilt it after fire and water damage, and made even more additions as needed or as they saw fit. Some portions of the Great Mosque structure that still stand today date back to the 16th century.
The Holy Kaaba
Al-Kaʿbah al-Musharrafah, also known as the Ka’bah or Kaaba, is found at the center of al-Masjid al-Haram or the Great Mosque of Makkah.
Muslims pray facing the Holy Kaaba five times a day. During the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, Muslims also walk around it seven times in a counter-clockwise direction in the religious ritual known as the Tawāf.
The Kaaba is a tallish, rectangular cube 15 meters tall and measuring approximately 140 square meters at the base (10 meters by 14 meters). It was originally built by the Prophet Abraham (Peace Be Upon Him). At the southeastern corner lies the Black Stone, believed to be a remnant of the original structure that Abraham built.
The Kaaba is made of gray stone and marble, although it is possible you won’t see its natural color when you visit. Most of the year, The Kaaba is shrouded by a Kiswah or a black silk cloth that is replaced only once a year, on the Day of Arafah.
The Kaaba Kiswah is a massive 670 kilograms of black silk with a coverage area of 658 square meters. The silk is adorned by ornate gold and silver embroidery of verses from the Qur’an and takes more than 137 workers approximately eight months to complete. With the craftsmanship, the gold and silver embroidery and the embellishments, the Kiswah is estimated to be worth around SAR 22,000,000 or a little less than USD 6,000,000.
Jabal Al Nour
Jabal Al Nour is a 640-meter mountain approximately four kilometers northeast of the Old City and less than 15 minutes away by car. This is a popular Makkah destination, especially for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
Ghar Hira or the Cave of Hira is the ultimate destination of visitors to Jabal Al Nour. This cave is located towards the top of Jabal Al Nour. At four meters long and approximately one and a half meters wide, only around five people can fit inside.
Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) i used to regularly spend time inside this cave to meditate. It was there that he received the revelation, through the Archangel Gabriel, about the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. For this reason, Jabal Al Nour is called the “Mountain of Enlightenment,” the “Mountain of Light,” and the “Hill of Illumination.”
If you plan to trek to Hira Cave, it would be best to start your climb in the early morning to avoid the full force of the sun. Steps have been built on the side of the mountain for ease of access to the cave. However, the way is steep and can still be rather challenging. From the foot of the mountain to Hira Cave, you may have to hike from 40 minutes to more than an hour, depending on how fast you can go.
Abraj Al Bait
While in Makkah, you can’t miss Abraj Al Bait, a complex of seven skyscrapers, including Saudi’s tallest skyscraper and the world’s tallest clock tower, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower. The complex faces The Haram and dominates the holy city, and it is so tall that it is visible even from a distance of 30 kilometers away.
The complex is popular among visitors because it houses Saudi restaurants, hotels, a parking garage that can hold more than a thousand vehicles, and leisure facilities, including the Clock Tower Museum and the five-storey Abraj Al Bait Mall. It is also very conveniently located, providing easy access to the Great Mosque. The hotels within the complex also provide sweeping views of The Haram and the millions of pilgrims going around the Kaaba.
Visitors to Makkah who wish to stay at Abraj Al Bait have seven hotels to choose from. They are the following:
- Fairmont Clock Royal Tower
- Swissotel Makkah
- Swissotel Al Maqam
- Pullman Zamzam
This museum, also known as Al-Zaher Palace Museum, opened in 2000 and can be found on the Makkah Al Madinah Munawawrah Road. From the outside, the museum is nothing too grand nor too extravagant.
It’s a simple two-storey, white structure inside a fair-sized courtyard with gardens. There’s a praying area beside the entrance, separate washrooms for men and women, and Zamzam water that visitors can drink for free.
Inside the museum are seven halls containing more than 100,000 artifacts, some more than hundreds of years old. One of the fascinating exhibits is the three-dimensional model or the miniature replica of the al-Masjid al-Haram. This shows the expansion of the mosque. On the walls are pictures of the Haram and the many pilgrimages it has seen through the ages.
Also on display is a wooden column, around 1,300 years old, that used to be an inner pillar at the Kaaba. There are exhibits of the Holy Quran’s ancient manuscripts as well, including a copy written during the time of Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (May God Be Pleased With Him).
Sample Itinerary on Your Visit to Mecca
There are several places of religious interest that you can visit on your pilgrimage to Makkah. Among these, the most important are Al-Masjid Al-Haram and, of course, The Holy Kaaba.
Once you’ve completed your pilgrimage and have finished exploring the Grand Mosque of Makkah, you can proceed to Abraj Al Bait to dine, shop and explore the museum. The next morning, at dawn, you can head northeast to climb Jabal Al Nour. In the late afternoon, you can go west beyond the old city to the Makkah Museum.
Tahani Al Hamami is the Social Media Manager at Welcome Saudi, the No. 1 travel search and review website designed to help travelers find the best hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia. The website provides users with unique and valuable content to help them in their travel journey.