'Picture of the City of Mecca the Great'. Photographer: H. A. Mirza & Sons

Photo 174/3

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The record is made up of 1 b&w photograph held within a blue card window mount. It was created in c 1907. It was written in Urdu and English. The original is part of the British Library: Visual Arts.

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Genre/Subject Matter

This image shows the Caaba and Sanctuary at Mecca from an elevated position due East of the Masjid al-Haram, or Grand Mosque. Parts of the northwest of the city of Mecca are visible in the background.

Due to the relatively slow shutter speed used by the photographer, the movement of the pilgrims performing tawaf – the ritual of circumambulation of the Caaba seven times in a counter-clockwise direction during the hadj or umrah , starting from the black stone – is captured here as indistinct blurring of the figures closest to the Caaba.

A magnified inspection of the scene reveals an extensive and detailed view west-northwest of the city including many Ottoman-era and earlier structures, including a large white-washed building is situated immediately below the horizon on the foothills of the northern ridge.


Recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. :

Upper centre:

‘Picture of the City of Mecca the Great’

To the right and left of the title:

‘This is Mecca, the beloved residence of God.

Within it is His house, the bait al-haram.

All the virtues of the world are perfected in it;

Blessings from on high descend here day and night.’

To the right and left of the image:

‘It has many names such as balad al-amin and so on. Adam, peace be upon him, was the first to build the Ka'ba. The surrounding buildings were built during the time of Qasa ibn Kulab, the Prophet's paternal grandfather of the fifth generation. Before this [time], there were only the small huts of Arabs on the two hills. Its greatness is recorded in the books of tradition (hadith) and in the holy Qur'an. At present this city has become extremely graceful and beautiful. It is a veritable example of Islamic glory.

In the noble Mecca, the places of pilgrimages are as follows:

1) the house of Khuzairan

2) Mount Abi Qabus

3) the birthplace of the Prophet

4) the birthplace of ‘Ali

5) the house of Khadija the Great

6) the Mosque of the Jinn

7) the paradise of al-Ma‘ala

8) the mausoleum of Amina, may God be pleased with her

9) the mausoleum of Khadija the Great, may God be pleased with her

10) Mount Nur or the cave of Hira

11) the birthplace of the “sincere one”

12) the mosque of Amir Hamza, peace be upon him

13) the residence of 'Umar Faruq’

Lower centre: 'H. A. Mirza & Sons, Photographers, Chandni Chowk, Delhi'

Lower right corner, along right edge, in pencil: ‘3’ ‘140’

Verso The back of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'v'. :

In pencil, upper right corner:


4th [?] [? 07?] [illegible]

Recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. :

In red ink on upper left of image and – faintly – beneath lower left intersection of cruciform double-barred frame:

رجسطری شده

[superscript ط]


Labels ( verso The back of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'v'. ):

1 – Letterpress

‘140 H. A. Mirza & Sons, Photographers.

نقشه شهر مکه معظمه (Naqsha-i-Shahr-i-

Mecca-i-Muazzama. A photo. [sic] of Mecca,

together with a brief description.) One

sheet. Published by the Photographers:

Delhi. (Octr. 15, 1907.) 14 x 18º. Litho.

Price, R. I, A. 4.’

2 – Ink stamp

‘India Office

19 May 1909


Other Notes

The image was formerly referred to as ‘General view looking down on the great mosque at Mecca with the Kaaba.’

Extent and format
1 b&w photograph held within a blue card window mount
Written in
Urdu and English in Arabic and Latin script

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Visual Arts
Access conditions


Archive reference
Photo 174/3
Former British Library reference

History of this record

c 1907

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'Picture of the City of Mecca the Great'. Photographer: H. A. Mirza & Sons, British Library: Visual Arts, Photo 174/3, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100023493445.0x000003> [accessed 21 February 2024]

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