The Imam Riza Shrine Complex was developed on the site of the eighth Imam’s grave, in what was at the time of his death in 817 the small village of Sanabad. In the tenth century the town acquired the name Mashhad, ‘Place of Martyrdom’ (used for any burial place of a muslim martyr), and became the most sacred site in Persia. It was originally built in 817 AD or 201 AH, and renovated many times since. The earliest inscription is from 612 AD or 1215 AH.
The complex is one of the tourism centers in Iran and has been described as “the heart of the Shia Iran” with 25 million Iranian and non-Iranian Shias visiting the shrine each year, according to a 2007 estimate.