Mecca or Makkah is the holy place for the Muslims and is open only to Muslims who usually go to perform Hajj or Umrah, which is a pilgrimage.
However, there are many places to visit in the larger district of Mecca even if travellers are not performing a pilgrimage. Visas are required to enter the country and some sites require government permission to visit, read more about the things to consider when planning for Umrah in Saudi Arabia.
Here is the list of five places which you should never miss while on a trip to Mecca:
The Grand Mosque, also known as Masjid Al Haram, is the largest mosque in the world. It can accommodate 1.2 million worshippers at a time. The mosque houses the Zamzam well, which contains holy water believed to have been generated from God, and the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped structure which is said to have been built by Ibrahim, or Abraham, and his son, Ishmael, and is a reflection of a house in heaven. Visits to the Grand Mosque should be booked through a Hajj/Umrah tour company.
Al Kiswah Factory
Special tours are available through government permission to visit Al Kiswah Factory. Kiswah, or Drape of the Kaaba, is made of pure jet-black silk accented with gold thread embroidery of Qur’anic calligraphy. The fabric drapes the Kaaba. At the end of Hajj, the Kiswah is cut into small pieces and given to pilgrims as a memento. The tour allows visitors to observe how the Kiswah is made and how specially chosen men sew the gold calligraphy into the fabric. Only a tour company can make arrangements for a visit.
Thour Mountain is perhaps one of the most significant historic sites in Mecca. The mountain contains Thour cave where the Prophet Muhammad and his companion, Al Sideeq, spent three days before fleeing persecution in Mecca for Madinah. The mountain is at the southern end of Mecca and rises about 760 meters above sea level. It can be visited without the aid of a tour company.
Al Nour Mountain
At the eastern edge of Mecca, north east of Thour Mountain, is Al Nour Mountain. At Al Nour, or “The Light,” is the Hira’a cave, where the Prophet Muhammad often reflected and prayed before he became a messenger of God. The Hira’a cave is also the site where Muhammad received his first revelations from God through the angel Gabriel.
Al Jaáranah Mosque
Al Jaáranah Mosque, just north of the city, is the site where Mohammed clothed himself in pilgrim’s garb before travelling into Mecca to perform Hajj. Two drinking water wells, one called the Prophet’s well, are at the site and are about 10 meters apart. Numerous date trees are at the site and the nearby mountain overlooking Al Jaáranah Mosque is said to be the site where the African slave and the Prophet’s companion, Bilal bin Rabah, called for prayer. Government permission may be needed to visit the mosque.