The holy city of Karbala is amongst the holiest cities for Muslims after Makkah and Medina and is home to the Imam Hussein Shrine and his brother Al Abbas. Karbala is famous as the site of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein Ibn Ali. Commemorations are held by millions annually to remember it.
At the centre of the old city is the tomb of Hussein Ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Hussein's tomb is a place of pilgrimage for many Muslims, especially on the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala and the Day of Ashura. The city also receives many pilgrims during other religious events, such as Imam Hussain Arbaeen (40 days after the Day of Ashura), the birthday of Imam Mahdi (15 of Shaban), Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
Another focal point of pilgrimage to Karbala is al-Makhayam, traditionally believed to be the location of Hussein's camp. Here, the death of Hussein and his followers is publicly commemorated.
Other places of interest in Karbala
Although the tomb of Hussein Ibn Ali is one of the main places of interest, especially for pilgrims, Karbala is home to other interesting and beautiful places, too. Make the most of your stay in the region to explore nature in Karbala and also see other pilgrimage sites.
Ten kilometres to the west of Karbala is the Lake Milh (lake of salt), also known as Lake Razazah. The lake is generally fairly shallow, although water levels tend to change with the season.
An hour south is the city of Najaf and is the other most holy city of Iraq. Here the holy shrine of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib is located. Imam Ali was the cousin of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and was the first Shi’ite leader. Ali is known by various titles, some reflecting some of his own personal traits and others taking their name from particular events in his life.
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and sits slightly east of central Iraq. The city is roughly two hours on the road from Karbala.
While in Baghdad, you can visit the National Museum of Iraq, also known as the Iraq Museum; call in at Baghdad Zoo and see cute and cuddly animals; visit the monument to the Unknown Soldier, designed by the Italian architect Marcello D’Olivio and built between 1979 and 1982; and learn more about the local history of Baghdad at the Baghdadi Museum.