A majestic and historic destination.
Medina is one of Islam’s two holiest cities, making it a key destination for millions of pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah. The city is centered around Al Masjid an Nabawi, also known as the Prophet’s Mosque, which was constructed by the Prophet himself and is. Medina is where the Prophet Muhammad lived and taught after the migration from Makkah in 622 A.D., called Hijrah. This year is so important in the history of Islam that it marks the start of the Islamic calendar. Although the city’s name is usually written as Medina in English, its full name is Al Medina Al Munawwarah, meaning “the Enlightened City.” Because of the city’s pivotal role in the Prophet Muhammad’s life, making a trip to Medina is a lifelong dream for many Muslims.
Al Masjid an Nabawi (The Prophet’s Mosque)
The final resting place of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is in this stunning 10-minaret mosque, which can accommodate 1 million visitors and is open 24 hours. The Prophet’s tomb is located under the mosque’s only green dome, in its southeastern corner. After his arrival in Medina, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) helped construct the mosque, originally an open-air building, which has since been expanded numerous times by subsequent city rulers. It became the first building in the Arabian Peninsula with electric lights, which were installed in 1909. The area between the minbar and the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) tomb is known as Rawdah ash Sharifah, or the Noble Garden, which is one of the Gardens of Paradise. Tradition says that prayers uttered here are never rejected.
On the migration from Makkah to Medina in 622, the Prophet Muhammad and his followers stopped in the village of Quba and put down the foundation stone of the world’s first mosque. Worshippers have gathered here ever since, though the current building is a more recent construction. Once outside the boundaries of Medina, the mosque and the surrounding area have been fully absorbed by the city, and Quba Mosque sees a steady stream of visitors. Nearby Quba City Market sells dates, perfumes and other local specialties.
A major pilgrimage site, Mount Uhud is the place where Muslim forces led by the Prophet Muhammad battled troops from Makkah. The mountain rises about 3,500 feet (1,077 meters), and it can be climbed to better observe the battlefield. Nearby is the Uhud Martyrs Cemetery, where 85 of the fallen Muslim soldiers are buried. Mount Uhud is northeast of Medina’s city center.
Where to stay
Because of the large number of visiting pilgrims, Medina has a huge selection of accommodation options. Luxury hotels, including well-known international brands such as Hilton, InterContinental and Mövenpick, cluster near Al Masjid an Nabawi.
Where to eat
Medina has a diverse palate thanks to pilgrims who come from around the world and are hungry for a taste of home. Many eating options in the center of Medina cater to those who are after a quick meal before heading back to the mosque, including an outpost of Albaik, the beloved Saudi fried chicken restaurant. Higher-end sit-down restaurants can be found at the luxury hotels. Arabesque at the Shaza Al Madina hotel is a consistent visitor favorite.
Where to Spent Time
Medina has a handful of fascinating museums, such as the Dar Al Medina Museum, a private collection that documents the city’s history and heritage, and the terminus station of the Hijaz Railway, which once brought pilgrims all the way from Damascus, Syria. If you’re short on time, a hop-on-hop-off bus loops around Medina’s main sites.