The city of Mecca is the most important religious center of Muslims, and it’s regarded as the focal point of all Muslim pilgrimages. Islam’s founder, Muhammad, was born here in 570 AD. Throughout the course of his life, Muhammad struggled to establish the religion of Islam, and many believe that his struggles helped to unite much of Arabia under Islamic law. Today, Mecca is home to many different mosques, and a large number of Muslim believers visit the holy city every year.
Located on the edge of a small valley, Mecca is home to a variety of ancient and modern buildings. It’s also the location of the Kaaba, a cube-shaped stone building that’s considered a central focus of Muslim prayer. The earliest records of the city date back to around 2000 BC. It was founded by Abraham and his son Ishmael as a place to worship Allah.
In the 20th century, the city of Mecca underwent substantial renovations. The area surrounding the Kaaba was cleared, and sanitary and living conditions were improved for pilgrims. Mecca has a high population density, and the highest densities are in the old city. During the month of Hajj, the city is flooded with one to two million worshippers from all over Saudi Arabia and other countries in the world.
The most important landmark in the city is the Haram Mosque, where Muslims pray and perform rituals. The other major landmarks in the city are Mount Thawr, which houses the cave that helped Muhammad and his followers hide from Meccan enemies during their journey to Medina; the Qasr as-Saqqaf, a towering structure in the Al-Maabda quarter on the Al-Abtah Street; and Jabal al-Nour, which contains a cave where many Muslims believe Muhammad received his first revelation.