The Mecca, also spelled Makkah (is a city in Saudi Arabia, regarded as the holiest meeting site in Islam, closely followed by the Medina. Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of the Mecca to Ishmael's descendants. In the seventh century, the Islamic prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city which was by then an important trading center. After 966, Mecca was led by restricted sharifs. When the authority of the Ottoman Empire in the area collapsed in 1916, the local rulers established the Hashemite Kingdom of the Hejaz. The Hejaz kingdom, including Mecca, was engrossed by the Saudis in 1925. In its modern period, the Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure. However, most of its historic buildings have been pull downed in recent years because of the Saudi government's religious views and disapproval of undue reverence being given to such buildings.
The recent day city is the capital of Saudi Arabia's the Makkah Province, in the historic Hejaz region. With a population of 1.7 million (2008), the city is located 73 kilom (45 miles) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 met (909 ft) above sea height. Ptolemy may have called the city the "Macoraba", though this identification is controversial. Archaeology establish no inscriptions or mentionings of the Mecca from before that time, although other cities and kingdoms in that region are well documented in historical records.Around the fifth century CE, the the Kaaba was a place of worship for the deities of Arabia's pagan tribes. The Mecca's most important pagan deity was Hubal, which had been placed there by the ruling Quraysh tribe and remained until the seventh century CE.
In the fifth century, the Quraysh took control of the Mecca, and became skilled merchants and traders. In the sixth century they joined the lucrative spice trade as well, since battles in other parts of the world were causing trade routes to divert from the dangerous sea routes to the more secure overland routes. The Byzantine Empire had previously controlled the Red Sea, but piracy had been on the boost. Another previous route, that from the Persian Gulf via the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, was also being threatened by exploitation from the Sassanid Empire, as well as being disrupted by the Lakhmids, the Ghassanids, and the Roman–Persian Wars. The Mecca's prominence as a trading center surpassed the cities of Petra and Palmyra.
Every year, millions of Muslims perform the Hajj pilgrimage to the Mecca walking seven times around the the Kaaba. More than 13 million people visit the Mecca annually. Similarly to Medina, entrance to Mecca is restricted to Muslims only; non-Muslims are neither allowable to enter nor travel through the city.
The Mecca is at an elevation of 277 m (909 feet) above sea level, and approximately 80 kilom (50 mi) inland from the Red Sea. The Central Mecca lies in a corridor between mountains, which is often called the "hollow of Mecca." The area contains the valley of Al Taneem, the Valley of Bakkah and the valley of Abqar. This mountainous location has defined the modern expansion of the city. The city centers on the Masjid al-Haram area, whose elevation is lower than most of the city. The area around the mosque comprises an old city. The main avenues are Al-Mudda'ah and Sūq al-Layl to the north of the mosque, and As-Sūg Assaghīr to the south. As the Saudis expanded the Grand Mosque in the center of the city, where there were once hundreds of houses are now replaced with wide avenues and city squares. Traditional homes are built of local rock and are generally two to three stories. The total area of the Mecca metro today stands over 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi).
In pre-modern the Mecca, the city exploited a few chief sources of water. The first were local wells, such as the Zamzam Well, that produced generally brackish water. The 2nd source was the spring of Ayn Zubayda. The sources of this spring are the mountains of J̲abal Saʿd and Jabal Kabkāb, which lie a few kilometers east of Ḏj̲abal ʿArafa (Djabal 'Arafa) or about 20 km (12 mi) east southeast of the Mecca. Water was transported from it using underground channels. A very sporadic 3rd source was rainfall which was stored by the people in small reservoirs or cisterns. The rainfall, as scant as it is, also presents the threat of flooding and has been a danger since earliest times. According to Al-Kurdī, there had been 89 historic floods by 1965, including several in the Saudi period. In the last century the most severe one occurred in 1942. Since then, dams have been constructed to ameliorate the problem.