Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Mecca is the holiest city in Islam, the heart of the Islamic world, the birthplace of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), the cradle of revelation, and the most sacred land on the earth according to Islamic faith. It attracts millions of Muslims each year, especially for the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Islam prescribes that all Muslims who can physically and financially afford the journey make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime to Mecca. Accordingly, the city has grown by catering for the millions of pilgrims who arrive here each year during Hajj and Umra, and for tourists wanting to pursue the traditional pilgrim routes.
Mecca, which reportedly dates back more than 4000 years, is forbidden to non-Muslims. It is a place of history and faith to those who can enter it as Islamic civilization and the mission of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) have started from its high mountains.
Visitors can see historical architecture dating from the Ottoman rule period and should make a point of seeing the famous Mecca Clock Tower, which has become a central landmark in this Holy City. The sites and museums of Islamic history in Mecca tell the history of a great civilization that has spread to most parts of the World. It is still vibrant, full of memories of the past and anticipation for the future.
Shopping in the Holy City is a unique and distinctive experience. Shoppers can enjoy a variety of traditional and local markets as well as larger stores in shopping malls, each offering different products that supply Mecca as the annual destination for Muslims throughout the World. The shops in these traditional markets are characteristically small and have a variety of products including gifts, antiques, fabrics and cosmetics. Walkways between these markets are crowded with shoppers of all ages and nationalities, each looking for something unique.
The Sacred Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Haram)
Mecca city is the home to historical and famous landmarks such as Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, the cube structure within The Sacred Mosque, which was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael (pbut) located in the heart of Mecca and is believed to be the center of the Earth. That's why, it is the Qibla, the place all Muslims direct their faces and bodies while praying, no matter where they are in the World.
The Sacred Mosque is also the site of The Black Stone "Al-Hajar Al-Aswad" which is believed to be descended from the Paradise, Ishmael corner which is a semi-circular one meter high wall opposite but not connected to the northwest wall of Kaaba, the Station of Abraham (the footprint of Ibrahim), Safa and Marwah hills, and the ancient Zamzam well located meters from Kaaba, which is also believed to be connected to Ishmael when he was a baby and the angel Gabriel dug the well for him and his mother Hajar in Bakkah valley.
Jabal Al-Nour (Mountain of Light)
This mountain is located northeast of Mecca and houses the Cave of Hira (Ghar Hir'a) where Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) used to spend long periods of time worshiping before his mission.
Jabal Thawr (Mount Bull)
Jabal Thawr is located to the south of Mecca and contains the cave where the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and his companion Abu-Bakr took refuge from the disbelievers during the emigration to Medina. "If you do not help him, Allah will help him as He helped him when he was driven out with other one (Abu Bakr) by the unbelievers. When the two were in the cave, he said to his companion: do not sorrow, Allah is with us".
Jabal Al-Rahmah (Mountain of Mercy)
Located to the east of Mecca in the Arafat area. This is the mountain on which the Prophet (pbuh) stood and delivered his famous farewell sermon (Khotbat Al-Wada') during the prophet's last pilgrimage (Hajjat Al-Wada).
Makkah Clock Tower
Right in front of The Sacred Mosque, stands the beautiful and elegant Makkah Clock Tower, the 3rd tallest building in the World, standing at 607 meters, which is now the 2nd most important landmark in Mecca. This engineering masterpiece has the largest clock in the World which is used to signal "Athan", the calling for prayer to the faithful, five times a day.
This giant clock is adorned in over 98 million glass mosaic tiles with 24-carat gold leaves and has four faces, each one is 43 meters in diameter and features four ornate edges. The minute hand measures 23 meters in length and the clock drives weigh 21 tons a piece. Just above the clock alongside is the largest Arabic scripts reading "Allah Akbar" (God is the Greatest) on the north and south sides and Quran phrases on the east and west sides. On top of the clock tower is an extremely beautiful golden crescent, which can be viewed from far away. At the base of this huge crescent is a very special room. This special open air room, located so high on top of this tower, has been dedicated solely for prayers. This room has now become the highest place of worship anywhere all around the World.
By night over 2 million LEDs illuminate the tower clock making it legible from distances of over 8 kilometers. The pinnacle of the mega structure is adorned with 26 searchlights capable of shooting 10 km beams into the sky.
This skyscraper houses Saudi Arabia's highest observation deck at 558 meters above ground level which provides captivating views of Kaaba and The Sacred Mosque. The complex also provides Islamic museum, lunar observation area and prayer room with a space of 10,000 people.