"Arabic Makkah, ancient Bakkah, or Macoraba, city in western Saudi Arabia, located in the Sirat Mountains, inland from the Red Sea coast. It is the holiest of Muslim cities. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was born in Mecca, and it is toward this religious center that Muslims turn five times daily in prayer. All devout Muslims attempt a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Because it is sacred, only Muslims are allowed to enter the city. In the 20th century the city has undergone vast improvements. The area around the religious shrines has been cleared, the mosque has been enlarged, housing and sanitation have been improved, and transportation facilities have been enhanced. As a result, Mecca can accommodate the continually increasing number of pilgrims. The city has an area of about 10 square miles (26 square kilometers)."
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica Online