Photo: CameraAction/Shutterstock

An Inside Look at Imam Ali Mosque, One of the Most Visited Holy Sites in the World

Iraq Religion Art + Architecture
by Morgane Croissant Dec 8, 2022

For millennia, faith has pushed people to build grand, extravagant structures to honor and worship their gods, including churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and more. But you don’t need to be a believer to be awed by the beauty of religious buildings around the world. Case in point: the stunning Imam Ali Mosque.


Magical Iraq🇮🇶✨ This is the Imam Ali Mosque, one of the most visited Islamic sites in the world that's famously known as the burial place of Imam Ali, a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. A lovely place to meditate and self-reflect, this shows the praying area around the shrine. 💭 How beautiful is this place? 💙 📍 Imam Ali Mosque, Iraq Ig: @seiftamer_

♬ original sound – Visit

The Imam Ali Shrine complex (often known more simply as the Imam Ali Mosque) in the city of Najaf, Iraq, is one of the holiest sites for Shia Muslims all around the world. Built in honor of Imam Ali — Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law — it attracts millions of pilgrims each year.

The Imam Ali shrine complex was built around 977, but has been reconstructed, extended, and renovated several times over the centuries, including after the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the US.

The current exterior design of the complex includes an outer brick wall punctured with five highly decorated gates through which visitors enter the courtyard. Inside the courtyard is the shrine of Imam Ali marked by the immense golden dome and two golden minarets. Worshippers may enter the shrine through seven arched gates and access the mausoleum of Imam Ali. As a sign of devotion, many worshippers kiss and touch the doors of the gates by which they enter and leave, as well as the mausoleum of Imam Ali.

What is visible in the video above is the Ruwaq of Abu Talib, an area of prayer and reflection next door to where the mausoleum is kept. And much like the room where the tomb is located, the Ruwaq of Abu Talib is a feast for the eyes, with ornate domed ceilings, large glass chandeliers, marble columns, bejeweled walls, carved doors, and beautiful rugs to accommodate worshippers. The light bounces off all those shiny elements of decoration and the rooms sparkles brighly, giving the Imam Ali Mosque a magical appearance.

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