7 Pictures Tracing The Grand Mosque’s Architectural Journey Through The Decades

Hera Shabbir
Over the years, the Makkah Grand Mosque has grown like a bustling city within itself! Expanding almost every few years, the mosque has to constantly accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of pilgrims flocking to its sacred grounds. From its small and humble beginnings to its current larger and majestic form, each expansion tells a story about the architectural marvel. Scroll down below to get a look into the different scales of pilgrims the Grand Mosques has welcomed, spanning more than past 100 years.  

7. This is what the Grand Mosque looked like back in 1887

📸 Via The Atlantic 

Considering how closely the photographer was able to capture the Holy Kaaba, there was no second or third floors surrounding the holy site! Back in the 1800’s the Grand mosque was just a single-story courtyard for prayer that surrounded the Holy Kaaba, and just a few feet away were people’s homes. Imagine waking up to the view of this gorgeous mosque!

6. The Grand Mosque still had numerous buildings surrounding the site in 1910

📸 Via The Atlantic 

Considering how commute to Makkah was quite difficult back in the day, the inflow of visitors was quite less compared to today. The mosque was able to maintain the crowds, whilst being surrounded by a neighborhood of buildings where residents would stay.

5. The mosque got larger back in 1979 with multiple stories added to the site

📸 Via The Atlantic 

As commute to the holy site got easier with cars and flights, the Grand Mosque had to accommodate many more people on the site, thus leading to the mosques first grand expansion. The site now started widening the grounds covered around the mosque, along with building a second floor for worshippers to pray during crowded times like Ramadan and Hajj.

4. The Grand Mosque could now accommodate thousands of pilgrims in 1988

📸 Via The Atlantic 

After the grand expansion and addition of the second floor, this picture depicts how thousands of pilgrims were able to perform tawaf around the Kaaba. The space however was still end-to-end showing that the mosque needed yet again another expansion for the incoming Muslims.

3. The big change came about by 2005

📸 Via The Atlantic 

The thousands of pilgrims had turned into millions over the decades, thus leading the Grand Mosque to expand even further. People were situated not only inside but also outside the mosque. The mosque also had a place to perform tawaf on the second and third floor, to avoid overcrowding near the Kaaba.

2. The mosque was getting even bigger by 2015!

📸 Via The Atlantic 

As the neighborhoods surrounding the Kaaba were taken down, in order for the mosque to expand, the courtyard expanded further in order to accommodate worshippers during the five daily prayers. 2015 was also the year the cranes unfortunately fell on pilgrims at the Grand Mosque, injuring around 315 and killing 11 people. The Kingdom has since been even more vigilant on its construction sites at the mosque.

1. The mosque is filled from corner-to-corner in 2024!

📸 Via The Atlantic 

The Grand Mosque these days is now even larger in size and has worshippers both inside and outside the mataf, on the second and third floor, and even on the roads surrounding the grand mosque! This picture posted by the Saudi Press Agency was taken just a few days ago, of the Ramadan night prayers where some were seen praying over 13 kilometers away from the actual mosque!

Islam is only growing, and these multiple expansions of the Holy Mosque definitely prove it!



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