Karbala is one of Iraq's wealthiest cities, profiting both from religious visitors and its agricultural produce, especially dates. It is split into two districts, "Old Karbala", the religious centre, and "New Karbala", the residential district containing Islamic schools and government buildings.
At the centre of the old city is the Mashad al-Husain, the shrine of Imam Hussain bin Ali (asws), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by his daughter bibi Fatima (asws) and Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (asws).
Imam Hussain (asws)'s shrine is a place of pilgrimage, Many also believe the shrine to be one of the gates to paradise.
Jabar narrates from Imam Muhammad Baqir (asws): Imam (asws) said, “Before the war in Karbala, Imam Hussain (awss) addressed His Companions by saying, “RasoolAllah (saw) said to Me, “O’My Son (asws) ! You will have to journey to Iraq. This is that land which has caused a great deal of sufferings for the prophets and their successors. This land is called “Amoora”. You and Your Companions will be martyred there. Your companions will be of such caliber that They will not feel the swords and spears striking Their bodies.” Then RasoolAllah (saw) recited this ayah, (Suran al-Anbiyaa ayah 69) “We said, “O fire! Be a comfort and peace to Ibrahim”.
After reciting this ayah RasoolAllah (saw) said, “The war of Karbala will be made a comfort for Your Companions the same way Allah made the fire be a comfort to Ibrahim (as).” Then Imam Hussain (asws) said, “Even if We are viciously slaughtered at the hands of these people, it is of no concern to Us because We shall return back to Our Prophet (saw).”
(Al Kharaij Second Edition page no 848)
After the martydom of Imam Hussain (asws) many things happned in karbala:
It rained blood from the sky. If any stone were to be lifted around Masjid Aqsa (Dome of the Rock Mosque in Jerusalem) there would be blood underneath it. The suggestion is that even the rocks were mourning the passing of Imam Husain.
When the sun went down drops of blood fell from it. Also the trees started to weep blood. A stone on which Imam Hussain (asws)'s head was placed on still cryies blood on the 1oth of muharram. Also The tasbeeh of Khak-e-sifa turns red on ashura.