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Capital of the immense Province of Khorassan (213,335 Sq. Km) and also for a time of the whole of Iran, Mashhad is situated in the Kashaf Rud (Tortoise River) valley, tributary of Hari Rud, between the Binalud and Hazar Masjid mountains in a rich agricultural region.

Covering an area of 204 sq. km, it has for centuries been an important trade center and junction point on Silk Road caravan routes and highways from India to Iran and from north to south between Turkmanistan towns and Sea of Oman.

Although much of Khorassan is mountainous (300-3,200 masl), there are many fertile valleys, and the province produces large quantities of fruit, nuts, sugar-beet cotton, and a variety of industrial products, particularly in the area of car manufacturing industry. Located in an altitude of 985 m above sea level.

Mashhad, with more than two million inhabitants is the third most interesting tourist pole of Iran after Esfahan and Shiraz. By Iranian standards, it is not an old town, although its northeastern quarter stands on the site of Nauqan and Sanabad, (of considerable antiquity).

Although it had always attracted pilgrims, Mashhad did not become a pilgrimage Center of the first order until the coming of the Safavid dynasty at the turn of the 16th century. Having established Shi`ism as the state religion, the most brilliant of the early Safavid rulers, Shah Ismail I, Shah Tahmasp and Shah Abbas I, gave the city and shrine the place they have held ever since on the Shiite map, frequently making pilgrimages there themselves and generously endowing the sacred complex.

Sights to See

  • Shrine of Imam Reza
    Mashhad grew around the legendary martyrdom of Imam Reza, and the city's history is inextricably linked with that of his Shrine. According to popular belief, Imam Reza, heir to the Abbasid Caliphate as well as eighth of the Shiite Imams, died in what was then the village of Sanabad in 817 AD after eating some grapes.
    The story spread that he had been poisoned on the orders of the Caliph Ma`mun after having in some way arousing his enmity. Because of its incalculable importance to Iranians, on the Imam Reza`s tomb has been lavished the patronage and wealth of kings and princes. However, since the ninth century it has been ravaged and almost destroyed many times - but reconstruction and additions have occurred even more frequently. Characteristic features of the complex are numerous courts or sahns, saqqa Khaneh, (public drinking place),
    Naqqareh khaneh (place of kettle drums), the clock, the Imam's Tomb, dar ol- hoffaz (reciters` place), Allah Verdi Khan dome, the golden dome University of Islamic Sciences, Astan-e Qodss Library, a clinic, a safe, office of endowments, a guest house, an ablutions place, shoe keepers, and its (golden) minarets with specific design and orientation. In addition to this, a number of well-known Iranian and foreign scholars and scientists have been allowed to be buried in the precinct's yard as well as around the town. However, the Shrine of Imam Reza and the surrounding buildings do together comprise one of the marvels of the Islamic world.

  • Gowharshad Mosque
    Grand Mosque of Gowharshad (Masjid-e Azim-e Gowharshad) with its 50-meter high faience dome and cavernous golden portal is located immediately to the south of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza square and is architecturally perhaps even more important than the mausoleum.

  • Parks
    Four of the most interesting and beautiful parks of Mashhad are:
    1) Mellat Park
    2) Vakil Abad Park
    3) Kuh Sangui Park
    4) Mirza Kuchak Khan-e Jangali Park

  • Bazaars of Mashhad
    Mashhad has three bazaars. The biggest, the two-storied Bazaar-e Reza (or bazaar-e Bozorg), is 800 m long, 30 m wide, and one of the main shopping centers in the town. The crafts of Khorassan are all represented in the bazaar. All kinds of local souvenirs such as fur-clock, turquoise, Carnelian ring, gold, perfume, saffron, pelisse, prayer-mat, and rosary may be found here besides a myriad of foreign articles.

  • Gonbad-e Sabz
    The crypt shelters the tomb of Nader Shah, who made Mashhad his capital and operational base for his campaign against India.

  • Gonbad-e Sabz
    It is probably the most interesting and best preserved historical building in Mashhad outside the Holy Shrine, built by the order of Shah Abbas the Great.

  • Museums of Mashhad
    There are three interesting museums in Mashhad: 1) Museum of Astane Qodss, Or Holy Reza Museum; 2) Koran Museum, or Muzeh-ye Moqaddas (Holy Museum); and 3) Stamp and Coin Museum.

Excursions around Mashhad

  • TUS
    Tus was a powerful city and regional capital long before Mashhad, but then the Mongols came. A ridge of clay running through the plain is all that is left of its ramparts the size of which gives an indication of how large a city it was. Tus is the home town of Ferdowsi, not only the poet of Shahnameh (Epic of the Kings composed in 30 years), but also the national chronicler (in nearly sixty thousand verses) of a certain view of ancient Persian history.

  • Tus Museum
    This is a small museum in the complex of Ferdowsi Mausoleum, which has a Book stand with some offering in English not easily available elsewhere. The building was formerly used as a traditional tea house.

  • Harunieh Garden
    This large, crumbling, quadrangular domed mausoleum, in the vicinity of Ferdowsi`s mausoleum, is the only remaining structure of the original city of Tus.

  • Mausoleum of Khajeh Rabi'
    The fine octagonal 17th-century mausoleum of Khajeh Rabi`, patron holy man of The Sunnite population of Khorassan. Is located in the north west of Mashhad.

  • Akhlomad Cascade
    Located along the Mashhad-Quchan highway at a distance of 84 km from Mashhad and about 16 km from the Asian Road, it is a village through which a river is passing and leading up to two cascades within 3 kilometers from the village.

  • Golestan Dam
    It is an old dam with a 120-meters crest, 14 meters height, and 4 km away from Torqabeh, built on a river of the same name around 500 years ago during the reign of Timurid dynasty.

  • Guilass Spring
    With an elevation of 1090 meters above sea level, 50 km to the north west of Mashhad and 21 km to the north west of Tus, its water flows into a large natural pond with a maximum depth of 10 meters.

  • Hessar
    This is a beautiful village along the road to Torqabeh and Golestan River and dam (4 km from Torqabeh). There are many gardens around the village, which are used by the tourists in the summer time.

  • Shandiz
    Located 38 km to the southwest of Mashhad, this is a mountainous area with many springs and orchards. Leather products and fur clocks are among the best handicrafts of the region. There are skiing facilities in the surrounding area.

  • Torqabeh
    This is a beautiful mountainous village with many orchards, 16 km to the southwest of Mashhad. The orchards are watered with a river passing through the village. The village has got a nice park as well. The best known souvenirs of the village are the villagers' hand-woven baskets.