Al-Masjid al-Haram is primarily referred to as the Holy Mosque, or the Great Mosque of Mecca and is the destination of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is the largest mosque in the world and is located in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It represents a national and worldwide cultural symbol of the Muslim religion and can house more than 820,000 people at one time. The Holy Mosque contains the renowned Kaaba, making it the only mosque without a qibla direction of worship.
The most important aspect of the Holy Mosque is the Kaaba located at its centre, as it is a small square building that serves as one of the most sacred sites in Islam. Other important features include the Black Stone, which is inset into the wall of the Kaaba, and the Maqām Ibrahim, which represents the footprint of Abraham and is situated directly beside the central sacred site. Additional places of interest include the two hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah and the Zamzam Well.
It is important to note that non-Muslims are not allowed entrance into Mecca. For Muslims, Jeddah is the main point of accessibility with the Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport used for massive air traffic during the Hajj and other airlines utilised during lower traffic times. Highways from Jeddah allow access by car and charter bus.
The Holy Mosque has undergone extensive renovations over the years due to the increasing population performing the Hajj pilgrimage. King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz initiated the most recent plan to increase the mosque’s capacity to accommodate over two million worshippers.