Site of Worship

An opportunity to visit Makkah is the ultimate blessing for many Muslims across the world. This is Islam’s holiest city, as it is where the Prophet Muhammad was born and where the Quran was originally given to him. It’s also a regular part of devout Muslims’ daily routines, as they face Makkah to pray five times a day. One of the five pillars of Islam is the yearly Hajj pilgrimage to the city, although millions of people visit the city all year to conduct the shorter Umrah pilgrimage.

The great majority of visitors are pilgrims who want to spend as much time as possible within the magnificent Grand Mosque complex, which is a bustling hub of activity at all hours of the day. If you have time after completing Umrah’s compulsory procedures, the ancient city of Mecca has plenty to offer to supplement your knowledge of the location and the faith itself, from museums to sites that served as backgrounds to some of Islam’s most significant events.


Masjid Al Haram

The Grand Mosque, which can hold up to 4 million worshipers, is located in the center of Makkah. The Kaaba, swathed in black silk with gold writing in the middle, is its focal point. The holiest mosque in Islam, here is where travelers conduct the Umrah by dressing appropriately and following the specified procedures, such as the tawaf (seven rounds around the Kaaba) and seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa. 


The annual Hajj pilgrimage takes place over five days in the month of Dhul Hijjah in the Grand Mosque and other places around Makkah and is usually arranged as a package with guides to take you through the complete program of rites and prayers. During the rest of the year, though, most of the sites are deserted, so it’s definitely worth renting a car to visit some of the most important monuments without the crowds: the Arafat plains, Muzdalifah Valley, and the Jamarat, where the Hajj’s final rite takes place.


Makkah offers a plethora of interesting, small museums that illuminate the city’s history as the birthplace of Islam and a centuries-long crossroads for visitors from all over the world. The Exhibition of the Two Holy Mosques takes visitors on a journey through the construction and many phases of the Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah and the Masjid An Nabawi in Medina—browse intricate marble arches, reclaimed wooden doors, and much more, all saved and restored from previous mosque iterations.

You’ll have to work a little harder to get access to the Kiswah Museum next door, but it’s well worth the effort to witness how the Kiswah, the 670-kilogram black silk fabric draped over the Kaaba, is woven by hand with calligraphic inscriptions done in genuine gold and silver threads. You can learn about the region’s pre-Islamic history, which dates back to ancient rock art, and see early-Islamic coins from the Byzantine, Abbasid, and Umayyad dynasties, as well as rare copies of centuries-old Qurans and other important texts, at the Makkah Museum, which is housed in the opulent Al Zahir Palace.

Jabal Nour and Rahmah

The Holy Quran was initially revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel in the cave of Hira, on the Jabal Nour, or Mountain of Light. The mountain is not far from the Grand Mosque, and some stairs make the trip simpler for those who desire to follow in the Prophet’s footsteps. The Prophet’s final speech was delivered atop Jabal Rahmah or the Mountain of Mercy, and it is an important destination on the Hajj pilgrimage.