The Holy Kaaba

Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (d. 1936)
Collotype print on card mount, 1888
Centuries before the birth of Prophet Muhammad {PBUH}, serving the Kaaba was considered an honor for the tribes of Arabia, and senior members of the Quraysh clans of the Hijaz rotated responsibility for its protection and maintenance. The exterior walls were adorned with hanging cloth, poems and other items. This custom of reverential adornment of the House of God continues to this day with the beautifully embroidered cloth covering seen here known as the kiswa.
This image of the Holy Kaaba is believed to be the earliest photograph taken by an Arab photographer. It was probably taken by ʿAbd al-Ghaffar ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Baghdādī (d. 1320 AH/1902 CE), a physician from Mecca who hosted and worked with the Dutch orientalist Snouck Hurgronje during his visit in 1303 AH/1885 CE.