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. It is said to have been built by the Prophet himself in AD 622 and not only encompasses his final resting place (alongside the first two caliphs) beneath the iconic green dome built by the Ottomans, it also covers where his house once stood, adjacent to the mosque when it was just a modest square mud-and-wood building.
Like Al Masjid Al Haram (the Grand Mosque) in Mecca, the Prophet's Mosque never closes and is home to several significant religious spaces and relics. This includes the coveted rawdah area close to the Prophet's tomb, regarded by Muslims as one of the gardens of heaven where supplications are never rejected, and a dazzling marble minbar (pulpit) decorated in gold, dating from the late 15th century.
The mosque has a two-tiered structure and is rectangular in shape. The oldest section is in the south of the structure and was built by the Ottomans. It has 27 domes and an open-air courtyard. The rest of the mosque was built during a number of Saudi expansions, beginning in 1951. These often integrated modern takes on classical Umayyad, Ottoman and Mamluk architectural styles. One of the most innovative features, however, is outside the main building in the paved area that's also used for prayer. This has a series of retractable canopies that fan out like umbrellas during the day to offer shade. Watching this happen is an impressive sight. The motorised canopies were designed by German architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch, who has also worked on the Grand Mosque and the Quba Mosque.