Mecca Travel Guide
The holy city of Mecca is said to be the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed and is thus the spiritual and geographical focus of Muslims. It is warmly cradled in the intimate, sandy Valley of Abraham, close to the Red Sea. Only Muslims are permitted to enter the city and security is heavy. However, the adjacent capital Taif overlooks Mecca and welcomes all visitors.
Don’t think you can grow a beard and sing ‘Allah is great’ in Arabic to get past the many checkpoints into Mecca. Non-Muslims can however get as close as the summer capital Taif. The holy city can be viewed from here, and the scenery and climate is exquisite. Sights of interest include the central mosque and Shubra Palace. Although non-Muslims can’t enter the mosques, they can marvel at the pretty exterior.
During the Hajj pilgrimage, Muslims descent upon the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Muslims believe the prophet Mohammed fled to Medina when he was driven out of Mecca, and taught there for some years before his triumphant return to Mecca. He is buried inside the Masjid Al-Nabawi mosque here.
Sacred Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram): is the premier attraction of Mecca, as the holiest site in Islam. At the heart is a building said to have been built by Abraham (Ibrahim) himself. It is covered in black cloth and circled seven times by Hajj pilgrims.
Mina: is the location of the symbolic stoning of the devil.
Hill of Arafat: is where the prophet Muhammad is said to have given his last sermon.
Mountain of Light (Jabal Al Noor): is a religiously important site. At the top is the Her’aa grotto, where Muslims believe Muhammed first had the Quran revealed to him.