Mecca Then and Now, 128 Years of Growth

In the late 1880s, the photographer Al Sayyid Abd al Ghaffar carried cumbersome equipment to the desert city of Mecca, capturing scenes of thousands of Muslim pilgrims camped in the surrounding hills and valleys during the Hajj. Today, more than 125 years later, more than two million Hajj pilgrims descended on Mecca, which has grown drastically to accommodate the annual gathering. Gathered here is a series of photographs from al Ghaffar taken sometime around 1887, compared with images from similar locations taken in 2015.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • © Marco Gaiotti / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    People’s Choice: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021

    The Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest is inviting the public to vote for their favorite image, selected from a group of shortlisted entries.

  • NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

    2021 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar

    Every day until Saturday, December 25, we’ll present one new image of our universe from NASA’s orbiting telescope.

  • Bruno Kelly / Reuters

    A Crackdown on Illegal Gold Dredging in Brazil

    Rumors of a gold discovery recently brought hundreds of illegal mining dredges to a river in the Amazon. Officials have set fire to more than 60 of them.

  • Xie Mingfei / VCG / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Apple Crisp, Squirrel Tea, Floating Pumpkin

    A crab migration on Christmas Island, dengue-fever outbreaks in Pakistan, a castle in eastern France, migrants crossing the English Channel, and much more