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21 January 2021 |

  Mashhad

Mahshad, the holy city of Mashhad, is the home to Imam Reza Holy Shrine


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Mashhad 

Mashhad is Iran’s holiest and second-biggest city. Its raison d’être and main sight is the beautiful, massive and ever-growing Haram (shrine complex) commemorating the AD 817 martyrdom of Shia Islam’s eighth Imam, Imam Reza.

The pain of Imam Reza’s death is still felt very personally over a millennium later and around 20 million pilgrims converge here each year to pay their respects (and no small amount of money) to the Imam. Witnessing their tears is a moving experience, even if you’re not a Muslim yourself. If you notice a lot of young couples, that’s because the city’s also a haven for honeymooners, who believe sharing it with the Imam will bless their marriage.

Away from the Haram Complex, Mashhad is a good place to buy carpets, it’s a natural staging post for travel to Turkmenistan or Afghanistan, and offers many interesting excursions into little-touristed Khorasan.

Be aware that during major pilgrim seasons, almost all accommodation and transport will be booked out months in advance. Contrastingly, at other times Mashhad offers about the best-value accommodation in Iran. Winters can be very cold, with snow on the ground for up to five months a year. Summers are contrastingly hot. April is ideal.


The city is most famous and revered for housing the tomb of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Reza shrine and pay their tributes to Imam Reza. The Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid is also buried within the shrine. Mashhad has experienced the rise and fall of many governments over the course of history. Many Arab, Turkish, and especially Mongolian and Afghan tribes have brought great changes in the language, ethnicity and culture of the people each in their own time.

The city is located at 36.20º North latitude and 59.35º East longitude, in the valley of the Kashafrud River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and Hezar Masjed Mountains. The city benefits from the proximity of the mountains, having cool winters, pleasant springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. It is only about 250 km (160 mi) from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

The city is the administrative center of Mashhad County (or the Shahrestan of Mashhad) as well as the somewhat smaller district (Bakhsh) of Mashhad. The city itself, excluding parts of the surrounding Bakhsh and Shahrestan, is divided into 13 smaller administrative units, with a total population of more than 3 million

 

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