Mecca is the most holy city in Islam. The city is sacred in their beliefs as the first place created on Earth, as well as the place where Ibrahim together with his son Isma'il, built the Ka’ba. The Ka’ba, the centre of Islam, is a rectangular building made of bricks. Around the Ka’ba is the great mosque, al-Haram, and around the mosque, between the mountains, are the houses that make up Mecca.
Every year, approximately 200 million pilgrims attend the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, and an obligation that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every Muslim who can afford to do so.
The cathedral has a very substantial crypt, holding over 200 memorials, and serves as both the Order of the British Empire Chapel and the Treasury. The cathedral has very few treasures: many have been lost, and in 1810 a major robbery took almost all of the remaining precious artefacts.
The task of designing a replacement structure was assigned to Christopher Wren in 1668, along with over 50 other City churches. His first design, to build a replacement on the foundations of the old cathedral, was rejected in 1669.
History did not cease with the passing of the medieval monastery in 1540. Queen Elizabeth I, buried in one of the aisles of Henry VII’s chapel, refounded the Abbey in 1560 as a Collegiate Church, a Royal Peculiar exempt from the jurisdiction of bishops and with the Sovereign as its Visitor.
A daily pattern of worship is still offered to the Glory of God. Special services, representative of a wide spread of interest and social concern, are held regularly. In 1965-66 the Abbey celebrated its 900th anniversary, taking as its theme ‘One People’.