Originally a Jewish settlement of some significance known as Yathrib, it later became known as Medina, the second most holy city for followers of Islam. Its importance comes from the role it played in establishing Islam. The Prophet Mohammed and his followers fled to Medina in 622AD after being persecuted in Mecca for their beliefs. This event marked the re-setting of the Muslim calendar back to zero and re-naming the city as the City of the Prophet, Madinah Al-Nabawiyah. It is also the location of the first mosque, The Quba Mosque, the stones laid by the Prophet himself.
The most important mosque in the city is the Al-Masjid An-Nabawi, which enshrines the tomb of the Prophet and the first two caliphs that came after him. It is the second-largest mosque in the world, after Mecca and is an integral part of the Hajj rituals.
Although much is changing in Saudi Arabia a few sites remain out of bounds to leisure travellers. Still, we will have plenty to do, see and experience in this incredible and holy city at close quarters.