The History of the Makkah Region
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Explore Makkah

A city in the Makkah region

Holy site

When in Makkah, go and see

  • Masjid Al Haram

    Masjid Al Haram

    At Makkah’s heart is the expansive Grand Mosque, which can accommodate as many as 4 million worshippers. Its focal point is the Kaaba, the cube swathed in black silk with gold calligraphy at the center. The holiest mosque in Islam, this is where pilgrims perform the Umrah, by donning the appropriate attire and performing prescribed steps like the tawaf (walking around the Kaaba seven times) and strolling between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times. If you have any questions about the steps, ask your travel agent for a pamphlet or pick up a book before you go.  

  • Pilgrims visiting Mount Arafat/Jabal Rahmah
    Pilgrims visiting Mount Arafat/Jabal Rahmah

    Hajj

    The annual Hajj pilgrimage takes place in the Grand Mosque and at other sites around Makkah over five days in the month of Dhul Hijjah and is typically booked as a package with guides to lead you through the full itinerary of rituals and prayers. During the rest of the year, however, most of the sites remain empty, so it’s well worth hiring a car to take you to see some of these significant landmarks without any crowds: the plains of Arafat, the valley of Muzdalifah, and the Jamarat, where the final ritual of the Hajj takes place.

  • Pilgrims visit the Makkah Museum
    Pilgrims visit the Makkah Museum

    Museums

    Makkah has a host of fascinating, intimate museums that shed light on the city’s history as the birthplace of Islam and a crossroads for travelers from all over the world for centuries. The Exhibition of the Two Holy Mosques guides visitors through the construction and many phases of the Masjid Al Haram in Makkah as well as the Masjid An Nabawi in Medina—browse intricate marble arches, reclaimed wooden doors and much more, saved and restored from previous iterations of the mosques. You’ll have to do some wrangling to get permission to visit the Kiswah Museum next door—though it’s still well worth the effort to see where the kiswah, the 670-kilogram black silk cloth draped on the Kaaba, is made by hand, and woven with calligraphic inscriptions done in threads made from real gold and silver. At the Makkah Museum, set in the opulent Al Zahir Palace, you can learn about the region’s pre-Islamic history, dating back to ancient rock art, and see some early-Islamic coins from Byzantine, Abbasid and Umayyad dynasties as well as rare copies of centuries-old Qurans and other important texts.

Travel tips

  • Where to stay
    Raffles Makkah Palace is a luxury all-suite hotel with stunning views of the Grand Mosque. At the Conrad Makkah, you’ll be just across the road from the King Fahad Gate entrance to Al Haram and the Kaaba; at the hotel, take your pick of Arabian or international cuisine. At the budget-priced Dar Al Bayan Hotel, you’ll be just 6 miles from the Grand Mosque. Every room is equipped with a mini-refrigerator.
  • Where to eat
    Try the Gurkan Sef Steakhouse for Turkish food and delicious steaks, on one of Makkah’s prettiest streets. At the Oasis Restaurant in the Jabal Omar Hyatt Regency Makkah, you can fuel up for a day of discovery at the delicious breakfast buffet. The family-friendly Al Atbaq Restaurant serves Chinese, Asian and Arabian dishes.
  • Where to visit
    It was in the cave of Hira, atop the Jabal Nour, or Mountain of Light, where the Holy Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. The mountain isn’t far from the Grand Mosque, and for those who want to follow in the Prophet’s footsteps, there are stairs that help make the climb easier. Jabal Rahmah, or the Mountain of Mercy, is where the Prophet delivered his last sermon and is a crucial stop in the Hajj pilgrimage.
  • Rent a car
    Consider Budget, Hanco and Avis.

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