Each year tens of millions of Iranian and international pilgrims travel to Mashhad, the holiest Iranian city. The city’s name is Mashhad because it is home to the shrine of the eighth Shia Imam, Ali ibn Musa al-Reza. Mashhad means the place of martyrdom. The Prophet Mohammad’s descendant was assassinated by the king of Abbasid Empire some 12 decades ago. He was buried in a small village close to the city of Tus. The village attracted Shia pilgrims whose presence made the small village the most important destination for Shia Muslims.
Today the shrine is the largest religious compound in the Muslim world. Huge courtyards surround the burial chamber. Magnificent domes and minarets inspire pilgrims once they enter the complex. The interior of the shrine boasts spectacular mirror work, with pure gold and jewelry covering the walls and doors.
Pilgrims tend to reach the mausoleum, paying tribute to the Imam by making prayers next to or before the holy tomb. Non-Muslims can enter most parts of the complex.
The complex is also home to an old library dating back to over six centuries ago. There are some six million historical documents in the library. Also, the shrine has a museum in which over 70 thousand items of various historical eras are kept.