The focus of any trip to Makkah and Madinah is, of course, to spend as much time as possible in prayer and reflection. But you’re sure to have questions about the history, details, and operation of the two holiest mosques in Islam (the Great Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah). Two attractions are designed to help answer all your queries. The al-Haramain Museum, also known as the Exhibition of the Two Holy Mosques Architecture, chronicles the history of the mosques’ construction and their numerous expansions, and now houses remnants from earlier iterations: salvaged marble arches, calligraphic inscriptions, old wooden doors, fragments of pillars, teak staircases, and much more. Vintage renderings and photographs of the complexes in bygone eras will make you appreciate the massive versions that stand today. Next door, you’ll find the Kiswah Factory—but have the concierge arrange your visit in advance, as it’s not open to the public without an appointment (which requires a bit of finagling. Once inside, you’ll walk through the rooms where the kiswah—the signature black cloth that’s draped across the Kaaba—is made. Yards upon yards of dyed raw-silk fabric are woven on intricate looms, while ornate calligraphic inscriptions are stitched by hand from threads of real gold and silver. It’s an astonishing sight, and well worth the effort of booking an appointment.
Both attractions are about 20 minutes west of the Conrad; hire a taxi or arrange for a hotel car. Again, you’ll need an appointment to visit the Kiswah Factory, so contact the Conrad concierge for assistance.
EXHIBITION OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES ARCHITECTURE: 5322 Old Makkah-Jeddah Rd.
KISWAH FACTORY: Old Makkah-Jeddah Rd.