Mashhad

Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran and the capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the northeast of the country, near the borders with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. It has a population of 3,001,184 inhabitants (2016 census), which includes the areas of Mashhad Taman and Torqabeh. It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv to the east.
The city is named after the "shrine" of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam. The Imam was buried in a village in Khorasan, which afterwards gained the name Mashhad, meaning the place of martyrdom. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Reza shrine. The Abbasid caliphHarun al-Rashid is also buried within the shrine.

Imam Reza

Safavid dynasty

Shah Ismail I, founder of the Safavid dynasty, conquered Mashhad after the death of Husayn Bayqarah and the decline of the Timurid dynasty. He was later captured by the Uzbeks during the reign of Shah Abbas I. In the 16th century the town suffered considerably from the repeated raids of the Özbegs (Uzbeks). In 1507, it was taken by the troops of the Shaybani or Shabani Khan. After two decades, Shah Tahmasp I succeeded in repelling the enemy from the town again in 1528. But in 1544, the Özbegs again succeeded in entering the town and plundering and murdering there. The year 1589 was a disastrous one for Mashhad. The Shaybanid 'Abd al-Mu'min after a four months' siege forced the town to surrender.

Afsharid dynasty

Mashad saw its greatest glory under Nader Shah, ruler of Iran from 1736 to 1747 and also a great benefactor of the shrine of Imam Reza, who made the city his capital. Nearly the whole eastern part of the kingdom of Nadir Shah passed to foreign rulers in this period of Persian impotence under the rule of the vigorous Afghan Ahmad Shah Durrani . Ahmad defeated the Persians and took Mashhad after an eight-month siege in 1753. Ahmad Shah and his successor Timur Shah left Shah Rukh in possession of Khurasan as their vassal, making Khurasan a kind of buffer state between them and Persia. As the city's real rulers, however, both these Afghan rulers struck coins in Mashhad. Otherwise, the reign of the blind Shah Rukh, which with repeated short interruptions lasted for nearly half a century, passed without any events of special note. It was only after the death of Timur Shah (1792) that Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, the founder of the Qajar dynasty, succeeded in taking Shah Rukh's domains and putting him to death in 1795, thus ending the separation of Khurasan from the rest of Persia.

Nader shahMashhad art

Qajar dynasty

Some believe that Mashhad was ruled by Shahrukh Afshar and remained the capital of the Afsharid dynasty during Zand dynasty until Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar conquered the then larger region of Khorasan in 1796.

Geography

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.

HaruniyehMaleks houseStmesrop church

Climate

Mashhad features a steppe climate (Köppen BSk) with hot summers and cool winters. The city only sees about 250 millimetres (9.8 inches) of precipitation per year, some of which occasionally falls in the form of snow. Mashhad also has wetter and drier periods with the bulk of the annual precipitation falling between the months of December and May. Summers are typically hot and dry, with high temperatures sometimes exceeding 35 °C (95 °F). Winters are typically cool to cold and somewhat damper, with overnight lows routinely dropping below freezing. Mashhad enjoys on average just above 2900 hours of sunshine per year.

Economy

Mashhad is Iran's second largest automobile production hub. The city's economy is based mainly on dry fruits, salted nuts, saffron, Iranian sweets like gaz and sohaan, precious stones like agates, turquoise, intricately designed silver jewelry studded with rubies and emeralds, eighteen carat gold jewelry, perfumes, religious souvenirs, trench coats, scarves, termeh, carpets, and rugs.
According to the writings and documents, the oldest existing carpet attributed to the city belongs to the reign of Shah Abbas (Abbas I of Persia). Also, there is a type of carpet, classified as Mashhad Turkbâf, which, as its name suggests, is woven by hand with Turkish knots by craftsmen who emigrated from Tabriz to Mashhad in the nineteenth century. Among other major industries in the city are the nutrition industries, clothing, leather, textiles, chemicals, steel and non-metallic mineral industries, construction materials factories, thehandicraft industry, and the metal industries.

FirozehIranian Handi craftsSaffran

Culture

Long a center of secular and religious learning, Mashhad has been a center for the Islamic arts and sciences as well as piety and pilgrimage. Mashhad was an educational centre, with a considerable number of Islamic schools (madrasas, the majority of them, however, dating from the later afavid period. Mashhad Hawza (Persian: حوزه علمیه مشهد) is one of the largest seminaries of traditional Islamic school of higher learning in Mashhad, which was headed by Abbas Vaez-Tabasi (who was Chairman of the Astan Quds Razavi board from 1979) after the revolution and in which Iranian politician and clerics such as Ali Khamenei, Ahmad Alamolhoda, Abolghasem Khazali, Mohammad Reyshahri, Morteza Motahhari, Abbas Vaez-Tabasi, Madmoud Halabi (the founder of Hojjatieh and Mohammad Hadi Abd-e Khodaee learned Islamic studies. The number of seminary schools in Mashhad is now thirty nine and there are an estimated 2300 seminarians in the city.

Mashhad named Islamic world cultural capital in 2017

The Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, named after the great Iranian poet, is located here and is regarded as the third institution in attracting foreign students, mainly from Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Central Asian republics. The Madrassa of Ayatollah Al-Khoei, originally built in the seventeenth century and recently replaced with modern facilities, is the city's foremost traditional centre for religious learning. The Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, founded in 1984, stands at the centre of town, within the shrine complex. The prestige of traditional religious education at Mashhad attracts students, known as Talabeh, or "Mollah" internationally.
Mashhad is also home to one of the oldest libraries of the Middle-East called the Central Library of Astan Quds Razavi with a history of over six centuries. There are some six million historical documents in the foundation's central library. A museum is also home to over 70,000 rare manuscripts from various historical eras

Ferdowsi tombFerdowsi tombFerdowsi tomb

The Astan Quds Razavi Central Museum, which is part of the Astan-e Quds Razavi Complex, contains Islamic art and historical artifacts. In 1976, a new edifice was designed and constructed by the well-known Iranian architect Dariush Borbor to house the museum and the ancient manuscripts.

In 1569 (977 H), 'Imad al-Din Mas'ud Shirazi, a physician at the Mashhad hospital, wrote the earliest Islamic treatise on syphilis, one influenced by European medical thought. Kashmar rug is a type of Persian rug indigenous to this region.

Mashhad active galleries include: Mirak Gallery, Parse Gallery, Rezvan Gallery, Soroush Gallery, and the Narvan Gallery.

During the recent years, Mashhad has been a clerical base to monitor the affairs and decisions of state. In 2015, Mashhad's clerics publicly criticized the performance of concert in Mashhad, which led to the order of cancellation of concerts in the city by Ali Jannati, the minister of culture, and then his resignation on 19 October 2016.

Hedayat Little BazaarMashad carpet

Contact us

Useful Links

Newsletter Signup

Get latest updates, news, surveys & offers