Makkah or Mecca in Saudi Arabia is the holiest city in Islam, and open only to Muslims. Followers of the religion from all over the world turn to its direction during their daily prayers, and try to make the hajj pilgrimage to the city at least once in their lifetime.
Believed to be the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, Makkah is home to the world’s largest and most revered mosque – Masjid al-Haram or the Great Mosque of Mecca. Taking pride of place in this humbling site is the Kaaba, the sacred structure that Muslims circle seven times to complete their pilgrimage. Embedded into its eastern corner is the Black Stone – an important Islamic relic worshipped by the hajjis. While touring this holy city, try to scale the Jabal al-Nour (meaning ‘Mountain of Light’), atop which sits the Hira cave where the Prophet is said to have received the first revelation of the Holy Quran.
A modern metropolis rising from an ancient desert town, Makkah has plenty in store for the millions of devotees embarking on their pilgrimage every year. The seven skyscrapers of the Abraj al-Bait are home to a luxurious hotel, a shopping complex and the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, housing a four-floor museum. The Clock Tower Museum features an impressive collection of Islamic art, fascinating exhibits on astronomy and an observation deck offering panoramic vistas of the holy city. If it’s shopping and dining you’re after, check out Makkah Mall for high-end fashion and upscale eateries.