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Introduction to Mecca

The holy city of Mecca (pronounced Makkah) is located in Hajaz, the capital city of the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia.

Mecca attractions

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Mecca is considered the holiest place on earth by followers of Islam. The city is home to a population of 2 million, but the number of visitors during the month of Ramadan is more than the city’s population. The weather in Mecca is arid and hot. Unlike many other cities in Saudi Arabia, Mecca remains warm in winter. There is very little rainfall throughout the year. Intermittent rainfall is experienced from November to January. Mecca is a holy place, and so the best time to visit is during the month of Ramadan, but there is an embargo on non-Muslims and they are not allowed to venture into most parts of Mecca.

Facts about Mecca




Saudi Arabia


25.8 square kilometers / 10 square miles


2 million

Average Summer Temperature

38°C / 101F

Average Winter Temperature

30°C / 86°F


Saudi Riyal (SAR)

Dialing Code

Country – 966 City – 2

Major Airports

King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) – Jeddah

Geographic Coordinates

21°25′N 39°49′E

Time Zone

Arabic Standard Time

Official Website



Historic Outlook

According to Islamic history, the holy city of Mecca was a proper settlement even as far back as 2000 BC. It is said that the holy shrine of Kaaba was built by Abraham (Ibrahim) and his eldest son Ishmael around that time. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam was born in Mecca in 570 AD, and Islam has been linked with the city ever since. After a long life filled with struggles to establish Islam, Muhammad finally died in 632, but he was successful in uniting most of Arabia in a religious unity that provided the region cohesion and strength. Islam was rapidly expanding, and within the next few hundred years, the religion was well-established in North Africa, in Asia and even in some parts of Europe. With the growth of the Islamic Empire, Mecca started to attract pilgrims from beyond Arabia. Throughout history, Mecca had never been a capital city, but Muslim rulers from all over Arabia supported and contributed to the city’s maintenance. In the Battle of Mecca of 1916, the Sharif of Mecca renamed the city the Kingdom of Hejaz, a separate state whose capital city was Mecca. During the second battle of Mecca in 1924, Saudi forces captured the city, and the city fell under Saudi Arabian administration and under the direct control of the Saudi Royal Family.

The Hajj

One of the Five Cardinal Duties of every follower of Islam, as enjoined by the Koran, is to undertake the sacred pilgrimage of the Hajj at least once in a lifetime. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca made in memory of the Prophet’s own journey to the city. The Hajj is undertaken between the 8th and 12th days of Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar follows the lunar month cycle and starts from the Hijri, the prophet’s journey to Medina to escape the hostile rulers of Mecca. Pilgrims arrive in Mecca in Ihram – a state of ritual sanctification and get ready to perform the many rituals that are necessary for the successful completion of the Hajj. The circumambulation of the Kaaba is one of the most important rituals and involves going around the sacred stone seven times. Then the pilgrims journey to the plains of Arafat. The Stoning of the Devil is the next ritual undertaken by the pilgrims. Having sacrificed an animal at Mina, the pilgrims proceed to return to the Kaaba again. They then drink from the holy Zamzam Well. After offering prayers at the Maqam Ibrahim, the pilgrims successfully complete their Hajj.

The Holy Land

The most important place in Mecca is the Masjid al-Haram, which is the holiest site in Islamic world and the world’s largest mosque. Masjid Al Haram, meaning the “Sacred Mosque,” is also known as the Haram or Grand Mosque. The existing structure spans an area of 356,800 square meters which includes praying areas (both indoor and outdoor). During the Hajj, the mosque is known to accommodate as many as 4 million worshippers. In the north-eastern corner of the mosque is the Kaaba, the holy Black Stone, which is said to have to have fallen from the heavens and turned black due to the sins of mankind. While offering daily prayers, Muslims all over the world face the Kaaba. Islam holds that Al-Baytu l-Mamur, the Altar of the Angels, is located above the Kaaba.

The Hajj – a pilgrimage to this mosque symbolizes unity among Muslims around the world. The magical oasis of Zamzam Is believed to be an eternal spring.

The next place of interest is Mina, the site where the Stoning of the Devil takes place. Mina is also known as the Tent City or the three-day city and looks deserted after the Hajj is over. Another place of considerable importance is the Hill of Arafat. It is believed that the Holy Prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon at this place. The Jabal-al-noor, or the “Mountain of Light,” overlooks the holy city of Mecca. It is believed that Holy Prophet Muhammad received his first verses of the Koran from the angel Gabriel up in these mountains. The climb to the top takes a good hour, but Gar Hira, a sacred cave on the mountain is a place that should not be missed.

Jabal Thawr is another site of historical importance. This mountain houses the cave that helped the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr Al Siddiq to hide from the hostile forces of Mecca. The Prophet and his companion hid in the caves for days before they finally fled to Medina. Qasr As-Saqqaf is one of the oldest buildings in Mecca. Standing tall in the Al-Maabda quarter on Al-Abtah Street, Qasr As-Saqqafis a unique landmark of Mecca.

The Palace of King Abdul Aziz, built during the early 1900s, is a sprawling palace that was built with precious and semi-precious stones brought from the western coast of the kingdom. Located in An-Nuzlah Al-Yamaniyyah, Qasr Khozam Palace is now a Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology. A visit to this museum is a strongly recommended, as it brings to the light the rich history of this holy land.

Activities In Mecca

Once you are donewith the splendid sights of Mecca you may want to find a souvenir to take back home. Though Mecca is not known for its shopping, it has its fair share of shops. One idea for keepsakes to bring back home from a visit to Mecca is a Persian carpet. Produced by mixing the wool of goats and sheep, the rugs are interwoven to produce complex floral motifs. Another option for mementos are the beautiful wood carving, such as a Koran holder. These are intricately carved wooden structures that can hold an open book. Shops around Mecca are also known for their herbs, such as the Miswak, which has been used since the time of the Prophet. The twig freshens breath and may have medicinal value. Bindawood is the biggest shopping complex in Mecca, and is the best place to buy clothes and other goods in the area. Gold tends to be fairly priced in Saudi Arabia. According the Wahabi Islam rites and rituals, alcohol and public dancing of men and women are considered “haram,” or forbidden, so the option for pubs, bars and night clubs does not exist. Hotels within the Mecca city area are not allowed to serve alcohol. Instead, try the road-side kebabs and sweet Arabic coffee.

Mecca Hotels

Luxury Hotels

Raffles Makkah Palace

King Abdul Aziz Endowment, Makkah 21955, Saudi Arabia

Phone: +966 2 571 7 888



Makkah Clock Royal Tower

The Abraj Al-Bait Towers, Al Hajlah Mecca 24231 21955, Saudi Arabia

Phone: +966 2 571 7 777



Economy Hotels

Most of the economy and budget hotels of Mecca must be booked through hotel booking websites or through tour operators. Some of the popular hotels are

Manafe Al-Thahabyia Hotel

Nawazi Watheer Hotel

Deyafet Al Safwa Hotel

Makarim Umm AlQura Hotel

Last Updated on: August 16, 2013

Things to do in Mecca