Wadi Al-Salaam, the Arabic name for Valley of Peace, is an area that looks like a pretty large Middle Eastern city from satellite photos. But you really need to drive or walk through the "buildings," if you can call them that.
There's an added importance to Wadi Al-Salaamb because of its proximity to the shrine of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shi'a imam and man to convert to Islam. That detail makes this the desired resting place for many Shi'ite Iraqis, which explains why so many have asked to be buried there.
The graves vary in shape and style. Those with the means have made beautiful family crypts. Other reach up to 10 feet high so that they can be seen by the others. There are burial vaults underground that can only be accessed with a ladder.
The burial practice in Wadi Al-Salaam has endured eras. It hasn't changed since its beginnings centuries ago. The only thing that has changed are prices: It used to be around hundreds of dollars during the 2000s, but a burial plot is now worth thousands.
12. How Is Wadi Al-Salaam Taking The Years Of Conflict?
The military conflicts Iraq has gone through has made huge expansions into the necropolis. During the Iraq War, up to 300 bodies were buried daily. There was a sharp decrease after the war finished, but things worsened with the rise of the Islamic State and the numbers are back up to 200 a day.
Eventually, any city becomes overpopulated, and even a city for the faithfully deceased gets no break. The turmoil in Iraq is expanding the cemetery so quickly the families are turning to desperate measures — stealing lots or digging up sidewalks — so they can bury their loved ones.