Iraq: Najaf – Imam Ali Holy Shrine

Imam Ali, buried in Najaf, was the cousin of Prophet Mohammad and his son-in-law and is considered “the first imam” by Shiites, and forth caliph by Sunni. For Shia, this is the forth holiest site in the world, visited by 8 million pilgrims every years. The shrine was built in 977 CE. The mosque is absolutely spectacular and stunning in its gold and decorations – the big dome is covered in 7777 brick slabs painted in gold. Three portals lead into the shrine all covered with mirrors and then further into the inner shrine where the tomb stands. A total mirror and chandeliers overload! Like many other Shiite shrines in Iraq, it has a long history of suicide bombing a and attacks in the last 20 years.