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 part of the country and is close to the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Mashhad is 900 km away from the capital of Tehran. The population of Mashhad after the 2011 census was 2,749,374. It used to be the major oasis along the ancient Silk Road, which used to connect with Merry in the East. Mashhad is one of the most famous cities of the country and it witnesses the most number of tourists. It is good to know Mashhad Travel Information before your arrival to Mashhad. Every year, almost 345 thousand people visit this city. Tourism in Mashhad is shrine based; this holy city of Iran has nine holy shrines of Shia-Muslims.
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 the 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 is an Arabic word, which means the place of martyrdom, the place where Ali 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 onslaught of Ninth Century, Mashhad was 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 al-Ridha was martyred by al-Ma’mun and was buried beside the grave of Harun.
In the middle of the fourteenth century, Ibn Battuta, the famous traveler, 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 fourteenth century under the Il-Khanids, seems to have been gradually ousted by al-Mashhad or Mashhad.
Demographics (People, Religion, and Food)
Mashhad is a multiethnic city. Persians, Hazrajatis, Baluchis, Daris, Kurds, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Lurs are the inhabitants of Mashhad. The dominant ethnic group is Persians. Jews were also present in Mashhad but as a minority. The Jews were forced to adopt Islam in 1839 after the Allahdad incident took place. They were the “Newcomers in Islam” or Jadid al-Islam. Jews secretly kept their faith and traditions alive even after accepting the Islamic way of life.
Iranian food is light and non-spicy. Mashhad travel tour is incomplete without savoring the local cuisine. Travelers to Mashhad should try chello kebab, chellomurgh (rice and chicken) which are specialties of Iranian cuisine. An assortment of freshly baked bread at the city’s many bakeries is something that is peculiar to Iran, where people like their bread straight out of the oven. Ice cream and mash melon milkshake are also worth a try. Sweet Black tea is one of the most popular drinks. Hezardestan Traditional Teahouse, one of Iran’s most famous teahouses, is a necessary visit for relishing a cup of hot tea in different flavors. Iranian antiques enhance the glory the restaurant and along with the live music playing in the background, it is the best place to savor the sights and sounds of life in the city.
Mashhad Tourist Attraction
Imam Reza Shrine Complex: The Imam Reza Shrine Complex dominates the city center. 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 travelers and a stunning golden dome stands proudly above the shrine itself.
Kuh-E Sangi Park: 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 Mashhad Tourist Attractions. A small stream runs through its center. A visitor can cross it by either climbing the rock formations or hopping through the stepping-stones.
Mashhad Bazaar: Mashhad is the saffron center of the world and the best place to get hold of it is the bazaars around the FakalehAb Square. Mashhadi carpets display intricate artistic skills and you can fetch them at a good price here.
Boq’eh-Ye Khajeh Rabi: It is an ornate mausoleum for one of the apostles of Prophet Mohammad. A visitor can visit it in the northeast part of Mashhad, just off the Khajerab Street.
Water Waves Park: There are several great water parks in Mashhad. This one is the largest of them all. Many visitors from neighboring countries frequent it. It is one place where you can spend an entire day experiencing fascinating activities. However, there are separate provisions for men and women. However, men and women should visit on alternate days as per the park’s schedule.
Vakil Abad Forest Park: VakilAbadis located in Vakil Abad Boulevard. It is one of the ancient recreational places in Mashhad. 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.
KoohSangi: It is one of the oldest and most memorable places of Mashhad and Mashhad Tourist Attraction. The creation of an artificial lake and an island of birds attract many tourists, making it the third most famous place in Mashhad.
Few more attractions
Kang: The historical village of Kang means “a strong claw living in the mountains” in the local dialect and a strong fortress against others. 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.
Radkan Tower: For ancient architecture enthusiasts, a trip to the village of Radkan is necessary to visit. 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.
Bazehoor Fire Temple: The name of this 2500-year old temple, Bazehoor consists of two words, ‘Baz’ meaning gate and ‘hoor’ means the sun. A traveler should visit the small village of RobatSefid, around 70 kilometers southwest of Mashhad. The modest, stone-brick is in contrast starkly to the splendor of the Islamic architecture throughout the rest of the region.
Just outside Mashhad, there is the mausoleum of Abū Qāsim Ferdowsī (c. 935–c. 1020–26), famous poet and author of the Shāh-nāmeh (“Book of Kings”).
Mashhad travel is not just about religious sojourns. It is a place for people who like to experience history, culture, and architecture of ancient Iran. A visitor can access Mashhad by road, rail, and airways in Iran. While visiting Mashhad, take a note of dress code, as the strict Islamic dress code is necessary here. Women have headscarves and men cannot wear shorts. The places around the vicinity of Mashhad are equally beautiful, as a result, deserve your time, and are worth the money.
How to book a Hotel in Mashhad?
To find and book your perfect Hotel in Mashhad or any other destination in Iran go to Iran Hotel Booking page.