One of the most famous cities of Iran with a long history is Mashhad. It is located in northeast of Iran and covers around 328 km2 and is the second most populous city of Iran after Tehran. The population of Mashhad is almost 3 million. Mashhad is one of the cities along the famous Silk Road and is the main Shia center in Iran.
What has brought such a reputation to this city is nothing except Imam Reza .He is the 8th Shia Imam that was martyred by Abbasian governor (al-Ma’mun) in 818 and in that time, Mashhad was just a small city was called Mashhad al-Ridha which means the place of martyrdom of Imam reza (al-Ridha). Now it is the second largest holy city of the world and is chosen by Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) as the capital of the Islamic culture in 2017.
Although Mashhad in comparison to famous cities like Isfahan and Shiraz, has no ancient highlights, it is worth it to visit since:
- It is the home of 8th Shia Imam .I.e. Imam reza
- It was the largest oasis along silk road
- Mashhad is also known because it is the burial place of Ferdowsi who is the author of Shahnameh, the longest epic poem in the world.
Top Mashhad Attractions
Imam Reza holy Shrine: The holy shrine of Imam Reza, the 8th Shia Imam that is located in center of Mashhad and nominated as the world’s largest mosque in dimension and second largest mosque of the world by the capacity (It is 250,000 square meters and has a occupancy of around 500,000 pilgrims). The complex consists of a library, two mosques (Balasar & Goharshad) , a museum, a cemetery, Islamic Sciences University of Razavi, a dining hall that serves Imam Reza’s food to pilgrims, vast prayer halls, four seminaries, seven courtyards and more.
Naderi Garden Museum: Nader was the king of Iran and the founder Afsharid dynasty from 1736 to 1747. He is the most famous Persian king after Islam and based on some historians’ idea the most powerful, too. Also, due to his braveness and military genius, he won all of his campaigns, he is known as The Persian Napoleon or Alexander the Second. But in the last years of his life, he became so cruel and skeptical and was killed by one of his captain of the guards. His tomb is located in Naderi Garden Museum. It consists of a central part that is his burial place. Two military museums are located there: one which carries weapons from different eras on display, and in the other the weapons belonging to Nader Shah’s Dynasty.
Ferdowsi’s Tomb: Very close and just within 20 km of Mashhad, there is a small town called Tus. Tus is known as the city of Ferdowsi, the unique Persian epic poet and also National epic of Iran. He is the author of Shahnameh, the longest epic poem in the world which was composed by only one poet. He has had a determinative role in keeping Iranian history alive and is the most influential person in Persian literature. Due to this, he is called “The Savior of the Persian Language” and “The Lord of the Word”. His tomb is in his own garden and was rebuilt by Hooshang Seyhoon in 1968. The structure of the tomb is derived from Achaemenid architecture and so it is so similar to Cyrus tomb in Pasargadae.