Masjid Miqat

Saudi Arabia

The biggest miqat (pilgrim station) complex in Saudi Arabia, this fort-like mosque rises up like a North African kasbah on the southwestern edge of Medina, marking the point at which would-be pilgrims have to assume the state of ihram (purity) ahead of making their journey south to Al Masjid Al Haram and the Kaaba in Mecca. This stunning world-class mosque has almost 2000 showers, toilets and ablution stations integrated into the perimeter wall, which is styled like an ancient city wall.

The North African design of the mosque integrates a square, winding minaret and a green, open courtyard in the centre. Gardens of palms, with rows of drinking fountains and pleasant seating areas, create a serene space amid the chaos as coachload after coachload of pilgrims arrive throughout the day and night. It is here they change out of their normal clothes and into their outfits to enter ihram. For women, there are no prescribed outfits, so normal mosque attire is observed. However, all men must wrap themselves in the iconic two white pieces of unstitched cotton.

The complex has a huge car park capable of holding around a hundred coaches. There's also a small fire station, ambulance hub and police station, as well as a seasonal health centre and information point. It sits surrounded by a few basic restaurants and food huts, as well as vendors of cheap pilgrim items such as money belts. This is one of five miqats in the country.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Saudi Arabia attractions

1. Ottoman Hejaz Railway Station

4.92 MILES

This beautiful station was part of the extensive Hejaz Railway that brought pilgrims to Medina from as far away as Damascus in Syria. Built on the orders…

2. Quba Mosque

4.99 MILES

This was once the village of Quba, where the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, migrating from Mecca to Medina, stopped in AD 622, and where the Prophet…

3. Masjid Al Qiblatain

5.33 MILES

The Arabic word qibla means 'direction' of prayer, and this mosque is said to have two. One facing Mecca, and another above the entrance (look where…

4. Holy Quran Exhibition

5.48 MILES

The highlight of this exhibition, which explains the context and historicity of Islam's holiest book, is a collection of nine original Qurans, the oldest…

5. Prophet’s Mosque

5.77 MILES

One of only two mosques in the world that can accommodate a million people, the Prophet’s Mosque holds deep significance for Muslims all over the world…

6. Hejaz Substation & Fort

7.45 MILES

This is one of the substations located just before the Hejaz Railway terminated at the holy city of Medina. Today this tiny station block and its fort –…

7. Uhud Martyrs Cemetery

7.55 MILES

This is an important site in Islam's prophetic narrative. Around 85 martyred soldiers from the Battle of Uhud lie here in graves surrounded by a tall…

8. Dar Al Madinah Museum

10.09 MILES

An excellent guided tour in English takes visitors through this private museum's interesting collection, which includes models showing the evolution of…