Medina is a city of major religious and spiritual significance in Saudi Arabia. Many Muslims catch a flight to Medina each year for religious pilgrimage, or Hajj. The main attractions in Medina are its historic connections to the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the religion born from his time spent there.
Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, or the Prophet’s Mosque, in the city center attracts thousands of Muslims every day. People travel from all over the world for a chance to see the mosque built by the Prophet and the site that is now his tomb. Like the majority of the city, the mosque lies in Medina’s forbidden zone, meaning it is accessible only to Muslims, who are provided with an exclusive view of the architecture of the famous Green Dome.
Outside the perimeter, though, the streets are packed with street sellers offering souvenirs and local artifacts, including intricately sewn prayer mats and copies of the Quran.
Pilgrims and Muslim visitors can also get a glimpse of other sacred burial sites such as Jannatul Baqi, where the Prophet’s companions and family members are buried, and a number of other historic mosques, including Medina’s oldest: the Quba Mosque.
Outside of the forbidden zone, it is recommended that tourists stay at one of the internationally renowned hotels, like Le Méridien (previously Sheraton).
The huge influx of different nationalities each year has brought a variety of languages, cultures, and cuisines to Medina. Lebanese, Turkish, Indian, and Persian restaurants now line Medina’s streets, while huge Arabic shopping malls selling international wares sit next to American and European hotels. It’s typical of the city’s fascinating mix of old and new.