The Grand Mosque or Al Masjid Alharam in Arabic is the greatest mosque in Islam and is located in the heart of Mecca, in the west of Saudi Arabia. Nestled in the heart of the grand mosque is the Kaabah, which is the very first place set for Muslims on earth to worship God according to the Islamic belief. The sacred mosque is the greatest and the most sacred spot on earth for Muslims and is the focal point for Hajj and Umrah for them where they can live a spiritual uplifting experience. The Grand Mosque is the Qibla which is the direction set for Muslims when they’re praying anywhere in the world, and is the place where they make pilgrimages. The Grand Mosque of Makkah is known for its sanctity since killing is prohibited from the time when the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) returned to Mecca after his victory in one of his battles. Muslims believe a prayer in the Grand mosque is equivalent to a hundred thousand prayers.
Inside the “Sacred Mosque” there are many symbolic structures that must be visited during the praying rituals for Muslims in Hajj and Umrah.
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped structure set in the middle of the grand mosque and is considered as the most sacred site according to Muslims. When praying, Muslims should face the Kaaba no matter where they were. This direction is known as the Qibla.
During the Pilgrimage or the Hajj season Muslims should walk in circles in a counter-clockwise direction seven times around the Kaabah, this is called the Tawaaf in Arabic.
The Black Stone
The Black Stone or Al-Ḥajar al-Aswad in Arabic is located in the east side of the Kaaba. During the Hajj season, the pilgrims try to kiss the Black Stone, however, if they fail to reach it due to the massive number of crowds especially in the Hajj season and during the holy month of Ramadan, they point to it during the seven rounds they do around the Kaaba.
Other symbolic structures in Al Masjid Al Haram is Maqām Ibrahim, Al-Safa and Al-Marwa and Zamzam Well.
The number of gates of the Grand Mosque are currently 79, but the main gates are 4 and they are:
King Abdul Aziz Gate
King Fahd Gate
Al Fath Gate
Al Umrah Gate
The number of the main and sub gates are up to 138 gates that somehow lead to the Grand Mosque. When you enter the gates you will find signboards, when these signboards light up in green it means that you can access to Al Masjid Al Haram through this gate, but when it lights up in red that means you can’t access Al Haram through this door. The gates are not open on a permanent basis because of the expansion operations taking place in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, so please make sure before going to a particular gate that it’s open at that time.
Surrounding the Grand Mosque are many hotels and accommodation options. Examples of hotels that are near Al Masjid Al Haram are: Al Safwah Royale Orchid, Dar Al Ghufran Hotel, Royal Dar Al Iman, Makkah Clock Royal Tower- A Fairmont Hotel, Swiss Hotel Makkah, Raffles Makkah and many others. Many services are offered to guests in these hotels, there are offices in most of them that provide tips and guidance on Hajj, Umrah and regarding visiting the Grand Mosque in general. In the hotels there are many facilities offered for residents such as barbershops where it’s beneficial for pilgrims when they have to shave to complete their Hajj or Umrah rituals.
In addition, some hotels offer free parking with advanced reservations to their residents such as Marriot Makkah and Hyatt Regency Mecca. Most of the hotels that are a bit far away from Al Masjid Al Haram provide a free bus shuttle for its residents for easier access to the Sacred Mosque; such as Elaf Bakkah Hotel and Le Meridien Tower Hotel.
Visitors to Mecca have trouble finding a free parking as it is limited and expensive, Yamsafer has included the best parking spots that you can use if parking is not available at your hotel.
Kudai Parking Makkah
Kudai parking is free parking just 2.5 km from the Grand Mosque in Mecca, where you can park your car and take a bus or taxi to the Haram borders.
Mahbas Al Jin Parking
Mahbas Al Jin offers free parking services just 1.41 km from the Grand Mosque in Mecca, but this parking is usually overcrowded especially in the period of Hajj and the holy month of Ramadan.
This parking lot is located within 1.60 km from the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Available at some hotels are wheelchairs that you can rent or use for free-depending on the policy of the hotel in which you’re residing in.
In the courtyards of Al Masjid Al Haram, wheelchairs are available free of charge next to Al Marwa gate as you just need to provide them with your ID. As for the electric wheelchairs; you can find them at the beginning of Safa in the second floor.
Also, you can get an electric wheelchair from the vehicles office located on the first floor of King Abdul Aziz Gate.