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Mecca or Makkah (Arabic: مكة المكرمة Makkah al-Mukarramah), located in western Saudi Arabia, is the holiest city in Islam. It is strictly forbidden for Non-Muslims to enter the city and this is strongly enforced.
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Points of Interest in Mecca
Most visitors to Mecca follow the set itinerary of the Hajj. Major sites include:
- Sacred Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram). The holiest site in Mecca and Islam. This mosque is built around the Kaaba.
- Kaaba. At the center of the sacred mosque is this building, said to have been built by Prophet Abraham himself and his son, Prophet Ishmael. Covered in black cloth, it is circled seven times by Muslim pilgrims.
In addition to Makkah, sites involving Hajj include
- Mina. The site of the symbolic stoning of the Devil.
- Muzdalifah The desert where the pilgrims spend the night.
- Hill of Arafat and Jabal Rahma. The site of Prophet Muhammad's last sermon.
- Jabal Al Noor (lit. The Mountain of Light). While not part of the Hajj ritual, this is still an important site, since atop this mountain is the famous Her'aa grotto, where Muslims believe Muhammed first had the Quran revealed to him.
- Jabal Al Thur. This is the cave in which Prophet Muhammed hid in as he made Hijra to Yathrib (Medina) while being pursued by Meccans who were going to kill him. According to legend, the cave entrance was blocked by a spider which had cast a web to cover it.
- Masjid e Taneem. This is a mosque which acts as a Miqat (boundary for Umrah) for people who have already just been in Makkah.
- Hudaibiyah. It is situated on the old road connecting old Jeddah to Makkah. It's currently known as al-Syumaisi. This is the place where the famous 'Hudaibiyah Treaty' took place between the Muslims from Madinah led by Prophet Muhammed and the Quraish from Makkah. There is new masjid built next to the ruins of the old masjid.
- Jannat ul Mualla. This is the cemetery in which companions during the time of Prophet Muhammed are buried.
A pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is one of the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam and one of the ten Branches of Religion in Shi'a Islam, and thus obligatory for all Muslims with the physical and financial ability to make it. Over three million Muslims visit the city during the month of Dhu'l-Hijjah yearly. Visits outside this month are known as minor pilgrimages or Umrah, and while not compulsory are strongly encouraged. This is also the place where the Prophet Muhammad was born.
- Hike the Mountains of Mecca
- Visit Ghar Hira, where the first verse of the Quran was revealed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
- Pray and read the Quran at the Kaaba Masjid al Haram.
- Shopping in the city is widely available. Bargaining is always an option when shopping locally.
- Visit Mina and the site of Stoning the devil.
There are many types of food from all over the world available in Mecca, from the Middle Eastern Arab food to Southeast Asian food. There are also American fast food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dunkin Donuts. No type of pork, ham or any part of the pig is served in Saudi Arabia as forbidden by Islamic Law.
There is an Al-Baik Restaurant adjacent to the Sacred Mosque.
Zamzam Water- holy water from the Zamzam spring in Masjid al Haram believed to be divinely blessed is preferred among pilgrims to Mecca.
There are many tea shops that serve tea and cookies. There are also many juice vendors right outside the Mosque, who sell apple, mango and strawberry juices for 1 SAR.
While in Mekkah many pilgrims purchase trinkets to remember their time, and souvenirs to bring back to family and friends. Zamzam water is available free which is consumed in Mekkah and brought home as a souvenir.
Other items to buy in and around Mekkah are: Prayer mats and hats, prayer beads and perfume.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Mecca on Wikivoyage.