Saudi Arabia is declaring this year’s Hajj pilgrimage a success, with some two million visitors expected in Mecca, Medina, and surrounding holy sites.
Previous years have sometimes been marked by tragedy, and this year’s event came amid a series of political challenges for the Saudis, but so far there has been nothing like the deadly 2015 stampede that killed hundreds of people.
Hurriyet Daily News of Turkey offers a photo of pilgrims climbing Mount Arafat near Mecca on Thursday. The mountain is the scene of the concluding Hajj event, the symbolic stoning of Satan. The stones are actually thrown at pillars symbolizing the Devil:
Some of the people queued up for the stoning of Satan carry umbrellas to protect them from the hot sun:
The mosque on Mount Arafat draws quite a crowd, too:
Pilgrims largely reach Mount Arafat by bus. Here is what the local traffic situation looked like on the final day of the pilgrimage:
Al-Jazeera caught the size of the crowd in Mecca with a striking photo of the Grand Mosque:
The Saudi Ministry of Culture provides a photo that shows the crowd around the Kaaba, the black cube in the center of the Grand Mosque which houses the most sacred relic in Islam, a meteorite that symbolizes God’s covenant with mankind. The Hajj pilgrimage involves walking around the Kaaba seven times:
The Kaaba is the specific point Muslims are lining up with when they turn toward Mecca to pray. It also turns up in the background of a lot of selfies these days:
According to the Saudis, total attendance at the Hajj is now several times the size of any Olympic Games in modern history. Getting into the Grand Mosque requires a bit of patience due to the crowd size:
Once you get in, it takes a while to get to the part where you walk around the Kaaba seven times:
The crowds stretch into the streets far beyond the Grand Mosque during prayers:
The Saudi Red Crescent keeps emergency equipment on standby to handle medical issues among the pilgrims, prominently including heat stroke, which health officials warn about every year:
The security operation is extensive and high-tech as well. The Saudi government states there are over 5,000 security cameras streaming live video of the Hajj. This is the interior of the security command center in the city of Mina, near Mecca:
All photos Getty Images unless otherwise specified.