Mashhad; The religious capital of Iran
Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Khorasan-e-Razavi Province. It is located in the northern-east part of the country and is close to the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Mashhad is 900 km away from Tehran, which is the capital of Iran. It used to be the major oasis along the ancient Silk Road and also the capital of Iran during the Afsharid dynasty. Mashhad is one of the most famous cities in Iran which witnesses the most number of tourists. Every year, almost 345 thousand people visit this city. It is mostly known as a religious city because many tourists come to visit the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, which is the most religious attraction in the whole of Iran. However, there are many other great tourist attractions in Mashhad which worth visiting.
If you would like to travel to Mashhad, Mashhad travel guide can help you have a better trip to this city. Here is all you need to know about Mashhad.
Geography and Weather
The city of Mashhad is located in the valley of the Kashafrud River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and HezarMasjed Mountains. Thirteen smaller administrative units, excluding parts of the surrounding Bakhsh and Shahrestan, constitute the city of Mashhad.
Mashhad benefits from the proximity of the mountains and experiences cold winters, pleasant springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. The city observes only 250 mm of precipitation per year, some of which is in the form of snow. Mashhad also experiences wetter and drier periods with most of the annual precipitation falling between the months of December and May. Summers in Mashhad are typically hot and dry, have high temperatures at times more than 35 °C (95 °F). Winters vary from cool to cold, and are somewhat damper, with the temperature falling too low in nights, even below freezing.
History of Mashhad
The name Mashhad has derived from an Arabic word, which means the place of martyrdom, the place where Imam al-Ridha, the eighth Imam of the Shia-Muslims, took his last breath. After attaining martyrdom, the followers built the shrine in Mashhad.
At the beginning of the 9th century, Mashhad was still a small village called Sanabad, 24 km away from Tus. That place had a summer palace of HumaydibnQahtaba, the governor of Khurasan. In 808, when Harun al-Rashid, Abbasid Caliph, was passing through there to crush the rebellion of Rafi ibn al-Layth in Transoxania, he died there due to illness. He was buried under the palace of HumaydibnQahtaba. Several years later in 818, Ali Ibn Musa al-Ridha was martyred by al-Mamun and was buried beside the grave of Harun.
In the middle of the 14th century, Ibn Battuta, the famous traveller, coined the term “town of Mashhad al-Ridha”. Around the end of the middle age, the name Nuqan, found on coins in the first half of the 14th century under the Il-Khanids, seems to have been gradually ousted by al-Mashhad or Mashhad.
Mashhad is the second most populated city in Iran after Tehran. It is also a multiethnic city. Aside from Persians who are the most dominant ethnic group in Mashhad, Afghans are among other groups who live in this city. Moreover, Jews were also present in Mashhad but as a minority.
Mashhad Special Foods
The other thing we should add to the Mashhad travel guide is its delicious food and the best restaurants. No trip can be completed without tasting traditional foods, especially in a country like Iran.
Travellers to Mashhad should try mixed rice, which is also known as Istanbuli rice that consists of rice, meat, onion, green peas, and carrots. However, different chefs might add different spices to this dish. The other popular local cuisine in Mashhad is called “Sholeh”. It is mostly served in funerals but is great traditional food in Mashhad. “Eshkene Ghourout” is another popular traditional food in Mashhad which is made by mixing whey, onion, and walnut. Therefore, not only it is a delicious cuisine, but also very nutritious.
Mashhad Tourist Attraction
The Imam Reza Shrine Complex dominates the city centre. It requires several visits to appreciate its magnificence. It is the largest mosque in the world with seven massive courtyards and a total area of six hundred thousand square meters. Intricate blue tile work and Arabic calligraphy on iwans and minarets hypnotize travellers and a stunning golden dome stands proudly above the shrine itself. Goharshad Mosque is among the famous attractions inside the complex.
Tomb of Nader Shah Afshar
Although Mashhad is mostly known because of Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the tomb of Nader Shah is another great tourist attraction in Mashhad which belongs to the king of Afsharid dynasty.
Ferdowsi is a well-known poet who lived and died in Tus, the city 30 km away from Mashhad. Since it is very close to the city of Mashhad, most people take a daily tour to Tus to visit this poet’s tomb.
Natural Attractions in Mashhad
It is Mashhad’s best park and a great spot for an afternoon or early evening picnic and can consider as one of the best tourist attractions in Mashhad. A small stream runs through its centre. Visitor can cross it by either climbing the rock formations or hopping through the stepping-stones.
Vakil Abad Forest Park is one of the oldest parks in Mashhad which is located in Vakil Abad Boulevard. This park consists of a great number of trees such as pine, cypress, and plantain. There is a zoo here where a variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles are kept.
Spend a Day in the Largest Water Park in Iran
There are several great water parks in Mashhad. This one is the largest of them all. This water park is so huge so you can spend an entire day experiencing fascinating activities there. However, there are separate provisions for men and women and they should visit on alternate days as per the park’s schedule.
Villages around Mashhad
The historical village of Kang means “a strong claw living in the mountains”. The village has mud-brick houses along the foothills of the mountains. It provides a wonderful opportunity for the tourist to explore one of the few communities that still practice an authentically traditional way of life.
For ancient architecture enthusiasts, a trip to the village of Radkan is necessary. It occupies the land on the summit of a hill to the west of the village. The cylindrical tower was a site for taking astronomical measurements. A visit to Radkan would also provide an opportunity to witness some breathtaking, unspoiled landscapes, and old mud ruins.
The small village of RobatSefid is located around 70 kilometres southwest of Mashhad. There is a famous temple in this village which is called “Bazehoor Temple”. The name of this 2500-year old temple, Bazehoor consists of two words, ‘Baz’ meaning gate and ‘hoor’ means the sun.
How to Travel to Mashhad
Travellers can easily get to Mashhad by aeroplane. Mashhad has an international airport which is located almost 15 km away from the centre of the city. Since most of the hotels of Mashhad are located in the city centre, around the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, it will be easy to get to most of them in 25 minutes. The railway station is also located 3 km away from the city centre. Therefore, travellers can easily buy train tickets from other cities such as Tehran and experience a cheaper trip to Mashhad.
While visiting Mashhad, take note of the dress code, as the strict Islamic dress code is necessary here. Women have headscarves and men cannot wear shorts.
Mashhad is the saffron centre of the world and the best place to get hold of it is the bazaars around Falakeh Ab Square. Mashhad’s carpets are also so beautiful and artistic. You can find the most beautiful carpets in this area.
Find Best Hotels in Mashhad
Since Mashhad is one of the most visited cities in Iran, it has many great hotels for every type of travellers. You can find the most luxurious hotels in this city such as Madinah Al-Zahra Hotel, or Qasr-e Talaee Hotel which are among the best 5-star hotels in Mashhad. If you would like to choose cheaper hotels near Imam Reza Shrine you can find the best 4-star hotels in Mashhad such as Almas Hotel which is a mid-range hotel 10 minutes away from the shrine. There are even more affordable hotels in Mashhad which still offers the best services and are also very close to the tourist attractions in Mashhad, such as Boshra Apartment Hotel, Marmar Hotel, or Parham Hotel.
To find and book your perfect hotel in Mashhad or any other destination in Iran go to Iran Hotel Booking page.