World·Photos

See what the biggest cemetery in the world looks like

World's largest cemetery in Iraq's Shia holy city of Najaf is expanding at double its usual rate since ISIS overran a third of the country in 2014.

Iraq's 'Peace Valley' cemetery is roughly 10 square kilometres, contains millions of graves

The world's largest cemetery, in Iraq's Shia holy city of Najaf, is rapidly expanding as the nation's death rate climbs with the war on ISIS.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

'Peace Valley' cemetery revered by Shia Muslims.

The Wadi al-Salam cemetery, Arabic for "Peace Valley," has a special place in the hearts of Shia Muslims as it surrounds the mausoleum of their first imam, Ali Bin Abi Talib, a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Death rate spikes with battle against ISIS.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

The pace of burials rose from 80-120 per day to 150-200 per day after ISIS overran a third of the country in 2014, according to Jihad Abu Saybi, a historian of the cemetery.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Cost of burials nearly doubles.

As land becomes scarce, the cost of a standard 25-square-metre family burial lot has risen to about 5 million Iraqi dinars ($5,466 Cdn). 

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

This is almost double the amount paid for the same lots before violence escalated as ISIS exerted control over large swaths of north and western Iraq in 2014.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Residents tend to the graves of their relatives.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Family members of those buried at Peace Valley cemetery often come to wash the graves of their loved ones.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Tombs reflect wealth of the dead.

Often built with baked bricks and plaster, decorated with Qur'anic calligraphy, some graves are underground while others are above-ground tombs, reflecting the wealth of those within.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Fighters visit shrine before heading into battle.

Shia paramilitary often visit Ali Bin Abi Talib's golden-domed shrine before heading to the front lines to battle ISIS.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Those who are killed request to be laid to rest in Wadi al-Salam, as a reward for their sacrifice.

(Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Graves as far as the eye can see.

Millions of graves of different shapes lie in the roughly 10-square-kilometre cemetery that attracts burials from Shias all over the world. 

(Jaber al-Helo/Associated Press)

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