The Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran is a complex which contains the mausoleum of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam of Twelver Shiites. It is the largest mosque in the world by area. Also contained within the complex are the Goharshad Mosque, a museum, a library, four seminaries, a cemetery, the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, a dining hall for pilgrims, vast prayer halls, and other buildings.
Complex of Imam Reza shrine
The complex is one of the tourism centers in Iran and has been described as “the heart of the Shia Iran” with 12 million Iranian and non-Iranian Shias visiting the shrine each year, according to a 2007 estimate. The complex is managed by Astan Quds Razavi Foundation currently headed by a prominent Iranian cleric, Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi.
The shrine itself covers an area of 267,079m2 while the seven courtyards which surround it cover an area of 331,578m2 – totaling 598,657 m2 (6,443,890 sq ft).
Every year the ceremony of Dust Clearing is celebrated in the Imam Reza shrine.
The role of Imam Reza in the guidance of the public in his lifetime and his prominent status as a religious figure lead to the transformation of his holy shrine as one of the religious hubs for Muslims and especially Shias which has had large architectural developments during the history. The complex was so respected by the Shia believers and various governments, whether Shia or Sunni, that has benefited from constant restoration, maintenance and new extensions during different eras. Plenty of tourists visit the Holy shrine each year and know it as the largest and most significant religious places for Iranians and other Muslims all around the world. Kumpfer, a German tourism who visited Iran during (1096-1105 AH/ 1685-1694 AD) has some words on the holy shrine complex. “The most outstanding, extensive and engaging holy shrine in Iran, undoubtedly, are as follows: first, Imam Reza’s Holy Shrine in Mashhad.
Second, his sister’s Holy shrine in Qom and, third, Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil”, Kumpfer stated.