Makkah Visitors Guide

Religious and Historical Sites to Visit

Makkah During Hajj
Makkah During Hajj. Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Whether you are traveling for a pilgrimage (umrah or hajj), or simply making a stop through, Makkah is a city of significant religious and historical significance to Muslims. Here is a list of must-see sites in and around the city of Makkah. Most of these sites are official stops during pilgrimage, while others may take you off the beaten path.

The Grand Mosque

Muslim pilgrims pray in Mecca's Grand Mosque near the holy Ka'aba
Muslim pilgrims pray in Mecca's Grand Mosque near the holy Ka'aba. Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images

The first stop for many visitors, the Grand Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram) is located in the heart of downtown Mecca. Prayers are said here around the clock, with space for nearly a million worshippers inside the building itself. During peak visiting periods, worshippers also line up in rows along the courtyards and streets surrounding the mosque. The current structure of the Grand Mosque was built in the 7th century AD, and through various imam's leadership has gone through several renovations and expansions since then.

The Ka'aba

Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

 Basil D Soufi via Wikimedia Commons

The Ka'aba (literally "the cube" in Arabic) is an ancient stone structure that was built and re-built by prophets as a house of monotheistic worship. It is located in the interior courtyard of the Grand Mosque. The Ka'aba is considered the center of the Muslim world, and is a unifying focal point for Islamic worship.

The Hills of Safa and Marwa

These hills lie within the structure of the Grand Mosque. Muslim pilgrims visit the hills in remembrance of the plight of Hajar, wife of the Prophet Abraham. Tradition holds that as a test of faith, Abraham was ordered to leave Hajar and their young son in the heat of Mecca with no provisions. Facing thirst, Hajar left the infant in search of water. She reportedly raced to these two hillsides, back and forth, rising up each one to get a better view of the surrounding area. After several trips and on the verge of desperation, Hajar and her son were saved by the miraculous springing of the well of Zamzam.

The hills of Safa and Marwa are approximately 1/2 kilometer apart in distance, connected by a long corridor within the confines of the Grand Mosque.

Plain of Arafat

Muslim Pligrims Arrive in Arafat
Muhannad Fala'ah / Getty Images

This hillside ("Mount Arafat") and plain is located just outside Mecca. It is a gathering point on the second day of Hajj pilgrimage rituals, known as the Day of Arafat. It was from this site that the Prophet Muhammad gave his famous Farewell Sermon in the final year of his life.

Zamzam Spring Water Well

Zamzam is the name of a well in Mecca which provides natural spring water to the millions of Muslim pilgrims who visit each year. Traditionally dating back to the time of the Prophet Abraham, the well is located a few meters east of the Ka'aba.

Looking for additional sites to visit? Consider Station of Abraham, Mina, and Muzdalifah.

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Huda. "Makkah Visitors Guide." Learn Religions, Aug. 28, 2020, Huda. (2020, August 28). Makkah Visitors Guide. Retrieved from Huda. "Makkah Visitors Guide." Learn Religions. (accessed June 1, 2023).