Iran's holiest city, is the capital of Khorasan
province. Mashhad is located 850 kilometers North East
of Tehran and has population of over 2 million. The name
means the burial place of a martyr. Back in the 9th
century A.D., Imam Reza was poisoned and martyred in the
city. He was the eighth Imam (head spiritual leader) of
Shi'ate Islam. His holy position made his tomb a sacred
place for pilgrims to worship. Millions of people pay
pilgrimage to the holy shrine, undoubtedly the largest
and most magnificent of its kind, every year. There are
plenty of priceless objects and unique manuscripts in
the shrine's library.
Mashhad is a tourist city with many hotels of various
categories as well as a great number of guesthouses for
the pilgrims who come to this city from the other parts
of the country everyday by tens of flights, trains and
Before he died, the city was known as Sanabad, a small
village in the north of Persia. After his death,
pilgrims came and ended up staying in Mashhad. The
village grew into a small city because of his shrine.
Sunni Muslim forces sacked the city, followed by the
Mongols in the 13th century. The shrine was badly
damaged and, after time, rebuilt.
In the 16th century, three Safavid Dynasty rulers
established Shi'ite Islam for the whole territory. The
shrine was restored and enlarged. These rulers made
pilgrimages to the site and since then it has become the
most holy Shi'ite pilgrimage in Iran.
The mosque and ivan of Gowhar Shad rank among the most
beautiful historic structures of the 15th century A.D.
Iran. The founder of the mosque is Gowhar Shad, wife of
the Taimurid Shahrokh.
It is a four-ivan Masjid with two tile-decorated
minarets flanking its main ivan. Upon the front of the
ivan, there is a stately inscription containing the name
of Shahrokh Bahadur and the date 1418 A.D. A part of the
inscription is by the Taimurid prince, Bysonghor Mirza
and is exceedingly remarkable as a calligraphic
achievement. The rest is from the Safavid period and has
been attributed to Mohammed Reza Imami. The Gowhar Shad
structures are masterpieces of archeological skill and
Tomb of Nader Shah
The city's climatic condition is varied with very cold
winters, pleasant springs, usually mild summers and
beautiful autumns. The magnificent holy shrine of Imam
Reza and the historical and artistic complex attached to
it including the courtyards, porticos and porches, the
Goharshad Mosque (of Timurid period) as well as its rich
museum and library are the most significant sights to be
seen by any visitor and pilgrim.
There is a magnificent golden dome over the shrine's
building; surrounded by several porches. The Grand
Gohaharshad Mosque is located to the south of the
shrine, the museum and the tomb of Sheikh Bahaee to the
southeast and Parizad and Balasar Schools to the west.
Other than a number of large beautiful parks, the other
sights tomb of Nader Shah of Afsharid Dynasty, Kooh
Sangi pool. There are also some sights outside the city.
Tomb of Khajeh Morad kilometers from Mashhad along the
road to Tehran, the tomb of Khajeh Rabi' located 6
kilometers north of the city where there are some
inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza
Abbasi, and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt in a distance of
20 kilometers from Mashhad along the road to Neishabour,
(the three personalities were the disciples of Imam
Among the other sights are the tomb of the great poet
Ferdowsi in Tous, 24 kilometers away from Mashhad; and
the summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlomod, Zoshk