The shrine (of Fatima al-Ma'ssooma) was at first as a shed of straw mat erected according to the order of Musa bin Khazraj al-Ash’ari, now it has a high gold dome, around which high minarets rising towards the Heaven.
The first dome, after that straw mat shed, was built after half a century by the order of Zaynab, the daughter of Imam al-Jawad (s) in the middle of the third century of hijra. It was rebuilt with adobe, stone and plaster.
Two other domes were built after some Alawite were buried (in the same shrine). The three domes remained until the middle of the fifth century of hijra when the first high dome was built to replace those three domes. It was built by the vizier of Tugril the Great after encouragement by Sheikh at-Toossi. This dome was decorated with colored figures, bricks and tiles (kashi).
In 925 A.H. the roof of the dome was decorated with mosaic according to the order of Lady Beigam, the daughter of Shah Issma’eel as-Safawi (the Safavid). Also a hall and two minarets have been built in the old yard.
Finally, Fathali (Fat~h Ali) Shah al-Qajari ordered the decoration of the roof of the dome with gold plates which have remained shining for two centuries.
After some damage to some of the gold plates, the office of the custodian of the shrine decided to rebuild the dome. The old gold plates were collected and replaced with others in a great project, whose cost might be twenty-five milliard Iranian rials (one dollar equals eight thousand rials).
In general the shrine is a structure with wonderful signs of Islamic architecture. It has been adorned with marvelous figures.
The total area of the shrine is about fourteen thousand square meters including the haram, the porches, the halls, the three yards, the tombs of the kings and the two mosques; at-Tabataba’iy and Balasar (over the head). Lately the Great Mosque has been added to the shrine. The area of the Great Mosque alone is about twenty-five thousand square meters.
When a visitor arrives at the outskirts of the city, he will see two minarets shining in the distance.
The dome leans over a silver tomb crowned with gold. The tomb is four meters high, five meters and twenty-five centimeters long and four meters and seventy-three centimeters wide.
The northern hall is fourteen meters and eighty centimeters high, eight meters and seventy centimeters wide and nine meters long. It is adorned with gold from inside and its figures are demarcated with gold too. Upon this hall the two minarets go high in the space until thirty-two meters and twenty centimeters from the ground. The diameter of each minaret is one hundred and fifty centimeters. This hall is called “the hall of gold” and its gate is called “the gate of gold”.
In the eastern side there is a hall decorated with hundreds of mirrors where lights reflect to make it more beautiful and wonderful. This hall adjoins with the haram by a porch, which is seven meters and eighty centimeters high, seven meters and eighty-seven centimeters wide and nine meters long. The porch stands on four stone pillars. Each of them is eleven meters high.
There are two minarets on this hall. Each of them is twenty-eight meters high from the roof of the hall. It is written on the top of them in one meter width “la hawla wela quwatta illa billah: there is no power save in Allah” and on the other one “subhanallah, wel hamdu lillah, wela ilaha illallah, wellahu akbar: glory be to Allah, praise be to Allah, there is no god but Allah and Allah is Great”.
The visitors feel a state of spirituality and happiness under the shadows of the shrine and in the new yard where several minarets extend high towards the Heaven and lights reflect in the hall, which is decorated with hundreds of mirrors besides the flying flocks of doves, which have taken this holy shrine as warm nests while the fountains dance in a glittering pool.
In the past the visitors and tourists could come into a museum from the yard of the shrine directly but now this way is closed and the museum has a gate outside the shrine in the Moozeh (museum) street.
The museum, which consists of two floors, contains a good group of gifts and valuable things that have been gifted to the holy shrine throughout its long history.
Surely whoever visits the museum feels eager to see al-Faydiyya school beside it, which is one of the most famous religious schools and hawzas. This school, according to certified facts, has replaced al-Aastana school. It is connected with the haram by a hall in the old yard.
A tourist’s attention may be drawn by the masses of the passer-bys between the small park adjacent to the street and between the school, the museum and the markets. He may think to take his way to the bazaar!
A tourist will feel that he enters a museum showing him different kinds of arts of architecture and different handworked goods in this ancient bazaar.
A tourist may ask, in the other side of the bazaar, about “Baytun noor: the house of light”, which is one of the important marks in the city that has become a school called as-Satiyya, where Fatima al-Ma'ssooma (s) had lived as a guest for seventeen days before she left to the better world.
Source: http://www.maaref-foundation.com/english/index.htm (adapted)