When it comes to clocks, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower is an incredibly famous and modern example of how far humanity has come in our ability to craft incredible structures. The location of this tower and its surrounding complex is within the most sacred site in all of the Islam faith: Mecca.
As part of the Islam religion a pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is required for all able Muslims. This clock tower is also part of a hotel complex that was built to provide a place to stay for the thousands upon thousands of Muslim pilgrims that visit the holy city.
Today we'll explore this clock tower from top to bottom and how it came to be.
Abraj Al-Bait is the other name for these towers. The clock tower and surrounding structures are owned by the government and are located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They are part of something called the King Abdualziz Endowment Project, which is intended to bring a modern look and feel to the city of Mecca.
The central clock tower is also a hotel. It possesses the world's largest clock face and it stands as the fourth tallest freestanding structure in the world. As such, it is commonly referred to as one of the most famous clocks in the world. It is strategically placed only mere meters from the second largest mosque and the most sacred site in all of Islam: the Masjid al-Haram.
The complex was built by the Saudi Binladin Group which is the largest construction company in the region. To move forward with the project, the company had to demolish the Ajyad Fortress which was an 18th-century Ottoman citadel.
The destruction of this monument sparked a controversy in 2002 among the Turkish and international peoples in the area. Despite the unfortunate destruction of this site, the replacement structure is one that will most certainly establish a legacy of its own.
Some notable features and amenities of the tower hotel include the following:
The clock stands at 1,300 feet above the ground with four faces measuring at 151 feet in diameter that can be seen up to sixteen miles away. These faces are illuminated at night with 2 million LED lights. Above the edges of each face is the phrase "God is the Greatest" engraved in Arabic.
In addition, there are 21,000 green and white lights on top of the clock. These lights flash to signal the five daily prayers that Muslims practice. During holidays, beams of lights are shot into the sky and the faces of the clock are covered with mosaics consisting of 98 million pieces of glass.
The minute hand is 72 feet long and the hour hand is 56 feet long. There is an observation deck beneath the clock faces that is accessible via elevator. On top of the main tower where the clock is displayed, there is a 305 foot spire with a 75 foot high golden crescent on the top.
This crescent alone was a huge project. It's made with fiberglass-backed mosaic gold and it took over five engineers and a hundred workers to build. Even with all of this input, it still took three months to complete the project.
When it came time to build the clock, it was divided into ten parts to be transported to the site in Mecca. All said and done, the project cost $15 billion US dollars to complete. This is by far one of the best ways to see the time now, don't you think?
Originally, it was hoped that this clock and the surrounding structures would be influential enough to replace the Greenwich Royal Observatory as the Prime Meridian for the world's time zones. The manager of one of the complex's hotels said that the goal was to replace Greenwich Mountain Time with Mecca Time as the starting point for each day.
The construction of the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel was not without its scares. A project as massive as this is expected to be a risky venture, but ultimately it is worth every penny. That being said, there were two fires during the construction of the complex:
Ultimately, this incredible clock tower was completed and stands as a symbol of the incredible feats we can accomplish.