Articles/The hidden tourist gems of Makkah

The hidden tourist gems of Makkah

أهم المعالم في مكة المكرمة

08 FEB 2020

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Source: Nadeen Al-Wazani

If you are visiting Makkah there is no doubt you will make the Holy Ka’aba your first port of call, especially as it is the focal point of billions of Muslims when they pray around the world. However, this does not mean you should miss the opportunity to visit some of the most important historical and Islamic landmarks that can be found in and around the holy city. Don't forget to take pictures, buy authentic souvenirs and try the famous local Al-Baik fried chicken. We have compiled a comprehensive guide to visiting Makkah:

Abraj Al-Bayt

You can stay in one of these residential skyscrapers near the Grand Mosque that also houses several markets to meet all pilgrims’ needs. The tallest of these towers is the Clock Tower, which features the highest clock in the world.


Clock Tower Museum

A modern and innovative museum spanning four floors, visitors can learn about how Islam and astronomy are so closely linked as well as how time was measured in the past.

Ka’aba Kiswa Factory

If you want to learn how the gigantic piece of kiswa cloth covering the Ka’aba is manufactured, this is the museum for you. Visitors can witness the weaving techniques used to piece the pure silk kiswa together as well as the gold and silver threading used to embroider the cloth.

The Two Holy Mosques Exhibition 

Located next to the Ka’aba kiswa factory, this exhibition displays manuscripts and models of the two mosques’ historical architecture, some dating back to the first century AH.

Hira Cave and Thowr Cave

These two caves are the locations of key events in Islam and are therefore a must-visit. Hira Cave, located at the top of the eponymous mountain, is where the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Messenger (pbuh) also had to find shelter with his friend Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq in Thowr Cave, located at the top of the nearby eponymous mountain.

The sacred Hajj sites

You can see important sites where the rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage are performed, such Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and the the Mina region with its Jamarat Bridge where pilgrims stone the devil.

Al-Saggaf Palace

One of the oldest and largest historical palaces in Makkah, Al-Saggaf is also known as Royal Palace or Al-Bayada Palace. It is distinguished by the unique Islamic calligraphy and designs that adorn its walls and ceilings.

Makkah Mall

This is one of the largest malls in the Kingdom and features some of the most famous international brands, restaurants and a dedicated family fun space for an integrated shopping experience.

Souks

The souks of Makkah are incredibly popular, especially those in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque. Some of the most famous include Al-Otaibi Central Market, Al-Azizia Market, Al-Hijaz Market and Hajj Street Market.

Ayesha or Al-Taneem Mosque

This is Makkah’s second largest mosque located within the boundaries of the Haram. It can accommodate thousands of worshipers and spans six floors designed in an Ottoman style.

If you have more time, you can visit Al-Ma’ala Cemetery and the Makkah Museum of Heritage and Archeology. You can also visit one of the city’s historical mosques or amusement parks for an even more unforgettable experience.

After completing an Umrah trip, consider a visit to Jeddah or even Taif by car. We have summarized some of the best attractions in these cities below.

Jeddah

One of the best places for family trips is the Corniche, where the famous King Fahd Fountain is based. The coastal city is known for the beauty of its beaches, including Al-Marjan, Alexandria, Silver Sands, Al-Nakheel and Thul. The most popular hotels and resorts include Makarem Al-Nakheel Hotel and Resort and Bahadur diving resort.

Your visit to Jeddah would not be complete without shopping in one of its popular souks such as those in down town “Al-Balad” and malls including Red Sea and Mall of Arabia. Also consider a visit to one of the city’s famous theme parks such as Al-Shallal and museums including Al-Tayibat Museum. Don't forget to try one of Jeddah’s lovely seafood restaurants overlooking the sea such as Twina.

Taif

Among the most famous tourist attractions in Taif are its wide range of parks that are suitable for family outings. They include Al-Hada, known for its beautiful nature and several recreational facilities and Teleferik that offers a panoramic view of the picturesque mountain surroundings. Al-Shifa, on the other hand, is home to many tourist resorts and beautiful green plains and springs, while Okaz Market and Shubra Palace Museum are ideal destinations for those seeking a heritage experience.