For many Muslims around the world, an opportunity to visit Makkah is the ultimate blessing. This is the holiest city in Islam: the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the city where the Quran was first revealed to him. It’s also a fixture in observant Muslims’ daily lives, as they orient themselves toward Makkah to pray five times a day. The annual Hajj pilgrimage to the city is one of the five pillars of the faith, but millions of people journey to the city year-round to perform the shorter Umrah pilgrimage as well.
The vast majority of the visitors are pilgrims who spend as much time as possible within the opulent complex of the Grand Mosque, which is a lively hive of activity at all hours of the day. But if you have time to spare once you’ve completed the required steps of the Umrah, the historic city has much to offer to complement your understanding of the region and the faith itself, from museums to landmarks that were backdrops to some of the most pivotal moments of Islam’s earliest days.