Situated in Saudi Arabia’s western coast, where the shore meets with the Arabian Peninsula, is Makkah Province. This beautiful and well-traveled Saudi Arabian province is home to the most sacred city in Islam: Makkah.
But Makkah is more than just the birthplace of Islam. It’s also home to gorgeous mountainous cities, beautiful historical architecture, and incredible archaeological sites. What’s more, Makkah Province serves as an important economic hub for the Kingdom.
As the Kingdom’s most populous region, Makkah sees more than 15 million travelers annually. This means competition is stiff for hotel rooms in Makkah, so book early to avoid being disappointed.
With so many sights and historical landmarks to visit, where does one start? Read on to discover some of the region’s most beautiful sights that should be on your itinerary.
- Masjid Al Haram
No other landmark has as much historical and spiritual importance in Islam than the Masjid Al Haram. Every year, nearly 2 million people visit Makkah for one specific purpose: to visit Masjid Al Haram and perform the Hajj.
Situated in the center of this most important mosque is the Kaaba. The Kaaba means “cube” in Arabic and is Islam’s holiest shrine. Muslims consider the Kaaba to be the house of God.
- Al Wahbah Crater
Those looking to explore Saudi Arabia’s geological past should not overlook the journey to Al Wahbah Crater. Located northeast of Taif and west of Riyadh, the Al Wahbah Crater is a natural anomaly and one of the Kingdom’s most dramatic locations.
Until recently, this giant crater in the middle of the barren desert was thought to be created by a meteor strike. Recent geological activity finally determined that this giant crater was formed thanks to volcanic activity.
The resulting effects have created an impressive crater that holds dazzling salt flats and notable green vegetation on and around the rim of the crater. This unique landscape adds to the attractiveness and mystery of this natural anomaly.
Al Wahbah Crater is the perfect setting for travelers who enjoy trekking, hiking, and camping.
- Jabal Al-Nour
Northeast of Makkah, roughly three miles away, lies one of the most important historical sites in Islam: Mount Hira or Jabal Al-Nour.
Translated as the “Mountain of Light,” Jabal Al-Nour holds significant historical importance because it was in this mountain that the Prophet received his first revelation. Today, Jabal Al-Nour serves as an important pilgrimage site for travelers making the journey to Makkah.
The journey to the summit of this towering mountain and the sacred cave where the Prophet received his first revelation is a challenging, two-hour ascent.
To make the most out of the experience, plan your trip and your time accordingly. Bring plenty of water and put on suitable footwear, and journey at a comfortable pace to enjoy the scenic views of Makkah from Jabal Al-Nour’s peak.
According to Islamic tradition, Jabal-e-Thawr served as the Prophet and his companion Abu Bakr’s hiding place while they were being pursued by the Quraysh tribe. For three days, the Prophet and his companion sought refuge here, hiding from their pursuers.
In Islamic custom, the Prophet and his companion were protected here from their pursuers by an acacia tree that grew rapidly, a dove that laid its nest on the acacia tree, and a spider’s web that was spun over the cave’s entrance.
Today, the cave in Jabal-e-Thawr has been marked as a symbol of faith and hope.
Travelers looking to visit this historical site are encouraged to travel at their own pace as the ascent to the cave can be a challenging journey.
- The Clock of Makkah
The Clock of Makkah or the Makkah Clock Royal Tower is one of Makkah’s most outstanding landmarks. This feat of modern architecture boasts a height of 601 meters (1,972 feet).
Towering over Islam’s holiest site, the Makkah Clock Royal Tower claims several impressive feats.
It is both the world’s third tallest building and its fourth tallest freestanding structure. This soaring tower is also the tallest clock tower in the world, overshadowing other famous landmarks like Big Ben and the Rajabi Clock Tower.
A family-friendly attraction, travelers who make the journey to the top of Makkah Clock Royal Tower are treated to stunning views of Makkah and its surrounding landmarks.
Exploring a Kingdom of wonders
Whatever your reason is for traveling to Makkah, preparation is key. Be sure to book one of the many Makkah tours available through the region’s travel agencies to ensure you get to visit these sites and many more.
Makkah’s many historical and cultural sights are not the only reasons to visit Makkah. The dining scene in Makkah is also one to behold. From authentic Indian food to traditional Saudi Arabian fare, travelers are spoilt for choice with all the many places to eat in Makkah.
If you visit only one place in Saudi Arabia, let it be Makkah Province. A journey through this idyllic region is a journey through time and a glimpse into the Kingdom’s future.
Ali Ozbay is the Director of Marketing for Shaza Hotels. The 5-star Shaza Hotel in Al Madina combines sophistication and location in effortless style, with each suite being, by intention, an emphatic expression of generous warmth and Eastern hospitality.