Mecca, officially Makkah al-Mukarramah and commonly shortened to Makkah, is a city and administrative center of the Mecca Province of Saudi Arabia, and the holiest city in Islam. The city is 70 km inland from Jeddah on the Red Sea, in a narrow valley 277 m above sea level. Its last recorded population was 1,578,722 in 2015. The estimated metro population in 2020 is 2.042 million, making it the third-most populated city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and Jeddah. Pilgrims more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj pilgrimage, observed in the twelfth Hijri month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.
Mecca is reputedly the birthplace of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Hira cave atop the Jabal al-Nur is just outside the city and is where Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad. Visiting Mecca for the Hajj is an obligation upon all able Muslims. The Great Mosque of Mecca, known as the Masjid al-Haram, is home to the Ka'bah, believed by Muslims to have been built by Abraham and Ishmael, is one of Islam's holiest sites and the direction of prayer for all Muslims, cementing Mecca's significance in Islam.