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

  • Dan Bartlett / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Salmon Blessing, Masquerade Games, Polar Night

    A figure-skating championship in Finland, a rugby tournament in Afghanistan, the Magh Mela festival in India, a soldier’s funeral in Ukraine, an ice storm in Texas, and much more

  • Andy Buchanan / AFP / Getty

    The Up Helly Aa Viking Fire Festival

    Images of the annual fire festival held in the Shetland Islands from the past 20 years.

  • Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty

    The Snow Monkeys of Nagano

    Images of Japanese macaques relaxing and staying warm in the waters of a mountain hot spring

  • Peter White / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Firefly Forest, Husky Club, Turnip Toss

    Frustration at the Australian Open, a light show in London, Republic Day parade rehearsals in India, snow cover in Yosemite Valley, anti-government protests in Peru, and much more