Muslims everywhere in the world say their daily prayers facing Mecca, the center of Islam. Each practicing Muslim must visit Mecca on Hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. The city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia serves as the gateway to the holy city and marking the entrance is the historic Makkah Gate.
This magnificent gate is one of the oldest gates in the country; as old as the city itself, which is about 2,500 years old. Also known as Sham Gate and Bab Ashlam, this ancient structure has seen the passage of time and the millions of pilgrims that have passed by it through the centuries. A visit to Jeddah by both Muslims and non-Muslims is never complete without visiting this popular and ancient gateway.
The earliest settlers in ancient Jeddah arrived in 100 AD. They quarried the reefs and fortified the city with limestone coral walls.
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In the 16th century, Jeddah put up six watchtowers and gates to protect the city from external attacks, specifically from the invading Portuguese. The six gates were Maghariban to the west, Sharif to the south, Makkah to the east, and three gates that faced north, the Al Bunt, Sharaf and Al Madinah gates. Surrounding these gates were caravanserais to provide comfort and rest for weary pilgrims. In the past and still observed by some today, pilgrims walk all the way to Mecca coming from different parts of the country.
Three of these gates, one of which is Makkah Gate, have been reconstructed so that they could remain standing for several more centuries to come.
Just like some of the most beautiful mosques in the Arab world, the Floating Mosque is not only a place for prayer but also of architectural and engineering wonder. Also referred to as the White Mosque for its sparkling white color, Jeddah’s Floating Mosque seems to float on water during high tide.
King Fahd’s Fountain, on the other hand, is the world’s tallest water fountain shooting to as high as 312 meters or more. It’s a stunning show of water rising incredibly high up in the air. In the evening, 500 spotlights illuminate the fountain to make the sight even more spectacular.
Meanwhile, Jeddah Corniche is not just one landmark but many along a stretch of entertainment centers, sculptures, monuments, and attractions along the city’s waterfront area. It is here that Jeddah makes full use of its closeness to the Red Sea. The Red Sea also offers a number of pristine beaches to tourists, making Jeddah truly a tourist-friendly city. Saudi Arabia can be very hot, which is why foreigners love the Red Sea.
Balad is as popular as the beaches since it attracts as many tourists. Balad is Jeddah’s old town. The main attractions here are flea markets, street shops, ancestral homes, and traditional buildings.
With these additional attractions, Makkah Gate feels right at home. It is rightfully located in Jeddah, a Saudi city that represents the interesting ancestry, lively tourism and deep spirituality of the kingdom.