Located about 100 miles inland from the Red Sea, Medina is one of Islam’s holiest cities, second only to Mecca. Because of its importance to the Muslim religion, non-Muslims are only allowed to visit Medina’s outskirts and use the Medina Airport, which offers a great view of Medina from the outside. Travel to Central Medina is strictly prohibited to non-Muslims who risk deportation from the country if caught trying to enter. For Muslim travelers, Medina is a very exciting place to visit. Historically important mosques are the main attraction here, and the land itself is sacred to Muslims, as well.
The Prophet’s Mosque is the second holiest shrine in Islam, and the biggest draw to Medina for Muslims. Huge canopies provide shade in the courtyard and space for up to 500,000 Muslims to pray. The famous green dome inside the Prophet’s Mosque, constructed hundreds of years ago by the Ottoman Empire, is even still visible. The mosque features a sliding dome that, in the daytime, opens up toward the sky for Muslims to pray to Allah. The mosque is always open, regardless of day or time, allowing visitors to come in and pray when they choose. Next, the Quba Mosque is the site of the oldest mosque in Islam, as it was founded by Muhammad himself. The original mosque was torn down, but the Quba Mosque rests on one of three historically important sites in Medina. Finally, Mosque of the Two Qiblas, or the Masjid al-Qiblatayn, is one of the three oldest mosques in Islam. Although its ornate interior isn’t necessarily unique from other mosques, it’s the site where Muhammad changed the direction of the qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca after being instructed to do so by Allah. Thus, the importance of this mosque is high.
For some mysterious entertainment, visit the Jabal Magnet. Located in the desert about 20 miles north of Medina, you’ll find Mount Magnet (Gunung Magnet). The gravitational pull around the area is strong, as cars and tour buses often get stuck in place by it. Try pouring some water downhill and watch it come back uphill! This is quite a sight to see while in Medina. Mount Uhud is another point of interest near Medina. A short 5-minute climb, this hill is the site of the Battle of Uhud and holds great historical significance.
Just a 2-hour drive west by car, Yanbu is a great day trip destination for those staying in Medina. This major sea port offers incredible scuba diving locations, beaches, and many shops and restaurants. The large expat population means diversity in foods and cultures in this little town. The Al-Suwaiq Village hosts a market every Monday and is a great place to spend a few hours wandering through the stalls. The town is also surrounded by sand dunes, which many people explore by off road vehicles. Make sure to visit the beaches and relax for a bit before heading back to Medina. Shrm Yanbu Coast is just north of the city itself, and offers white sandy beaches and clear waters for all to enjoy. The Eaga Coast is more accessible by those visiting Yanbu, and the Royal Commission Cornice is a great place to grab a bite to eat and stroll along the Red Sea’s shoreline.
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Getting to Medina from out of the area is best done by flying into Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport. Located just 25-minutes outside of Medina, this airport is open to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. A private car or taxi is the best way to get around Medina, as there is no reliable bus system that travels within the city. However, the SAPTCO buses are available for travel between Medina and other cities.
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