If morbid is your fascination, here’s a holiday destination you shouldn’t miss.
Wadi Al-Salam, that translates to ‘Valley of Peace’ in Arabic, is an ancient Islamic cemetery situated in the holy city of Najaf in Iraq. From a bird’s eye view, the cemetery resonates a straggling city, nevertheless, the residents of this city do not belong to the land of the living.
The magnificently huge graveyard comprises almost five million dead bodies, making it one of the largest cemetery in the world. Tombs elongating beyond the eye-sight, the record-breaking cemetery holds a population of more dead people in comparison to a few cities of the living.
Holding a historic relevance of thousands of years, ancient prophets, imams, political and social leaders, soldiers, militants, royals, scientists, and even civilians have been buried here. Some of them have been buried close to 1500 years ago, sheltering over 500,000 dead bodies.
The graveyard covers an area of 1485.5 acres and it's of significance to those of the Shia beliefs. It holds graves built out of baked bricks and plaster that rise on different levels, giving the graveyard its sprawling look.
It also has an underground burial dome, that could be accessed using a ladder. Additionally, the style of the vaults from back in 1930-40s hold their own uniqueness, that soar high up to 10 feet with rounded tops.
During the 2003 Iraq invasion war, the armed military used the graveyard as a shield to hide from the enemy-America. The benefit of this graveyard was the familiarity of the area with his narrow maze lanes and underground tombs. Till date, heaps of wrecked cages remain on the roadsides. The US Army shared a picture showing the sholdiers looking around the graves.
This very Iraq war added the members to the Wadi Al-Salam cemetery, soaring by 40% with the overwhelming casualty numbers. The cemetery has augmented eventually—first with the Iraq 2003 war, the religious war in 2006-07 between Shias and Sunnis and finally the 2008 battle with the army.
It also holds the title of a UNESCO Heritage Site.