Karbala stands as one of the most important cities in Iraq, considered to be a holy city in the same way as Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. It is no small player either, as Tens of millions of Shia Islam (one of the two main branches of Islam) Muslims visit the site twice, annually even rivaling the giant that is Mecca and Mashhad by the number of pilgrims visiting the city every year.
It would undermine the importance of the city by focusing on the usual tourism-based facilities, as the main part of the visits in the city is religious tourism and mainly pilgrimage.
Although, having that in mind, the city is considered a striving tourist destination. One of such reasons is well known and respected – the Battle of Karbala.
The city is recognized as the place where the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Husayn was slain. As such, tens of millions of Shi’a Muslims visit the Imam Husayn Shrine, every year throughout a pilgrimage called Arbaeen, making it one if not the biggest tourist attraction in the city.
People who find themselves on the pilgrimage have a lot to see in the city, from the Imam Hussein Holy Shrine to Al-Ukhaidir Fortress and much more both outside and inside the city.
For a quick overview for those that might be interested in visiting with interest in the history found across town, the former is the aforementioned and one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam and is the place that contains the grave of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the prophet Muhammad.
Al Abbas Mosque, seen as a location you would continue your visit with is the mausoleum of ‘Abbās ibn ‘Alī, located just across from the Imām Husayn Mosque, making it an easy followup location. ‘Abbās the flag-bearer for Husayn in the Battle of Al-Taff, was the half-brother of Hasan and Husayn.
The majority of the design found in the mausoleum was done by Persian and Central Asian architects, giving it a unique and wonderful look. The pear-shaped central dome is an immaculately decorated structure with two towers on its sides.
One of the aspects making the building quite eye-catching is that the tomb is covered with pure gold and surrounded by a silver frame, along with Iranian carpets spread out on the floors.
But making your way all across outside of the city is where you’ll find most of the sights you should visit, like Imam Ali’s Dropper Shrine, for example, which is a small spring, said to have been brought to life by Imam Ali, and Al-Aqiser – an archeological site in Ayn al-Tamr near Karbala that has been described as the Oldest Eastern Christian Church, which until recently was used by Assyrians of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Such sites might fall under more heritage and archaeological-based sites but are just as important if you would like to build the full picture.
At the end of the day, besides the great religious importance, the city will accommodate any visitors in a fashion expected from any majorly visited city. With many different hotels found across and outside town, you will surely find a bed that will tickle your fancy.
The same goes for food, from many great local and franchised restaurants and cafes, you will surely be able to find food that will fully immerse you in the region and will show you what the food in Iraq is really about. But to this day, the town stands as an immensely important holy site with tens of millions visiting the city on a yearly basis.
The great historical context, heritage, and sites that still stand to this day, make it a wonderful destination both for people that find it important in their religious ways and people who care about the history of the world. But if something is still holding you up from traveling to the country, feel free to check in by using one of the free webcams you can find on this site!