Mashhad (Persian: مشهد‎, Mašhad IPA: [mæʃˈhæd] ), also spelled Mashad or Meshed, is the second most populouscity in Iran and capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the northeast of the country, bordering with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. It has a population of 2,782,976 inhabitants (2011 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 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.


Mashhad has been governed by different ethnic groups over the course of its history. Arab, Turkic, Mongolian, and Afghan tribeshave greatly influenced the language, ethnicity and culture of the city. The city enjoyed relative prosperity in the Mongol period.

Mashhad is also known colloquially as the city of Ferdowsi, after the Iranian poet who composed the Shahnameh. The city is the hometown of some of the most significant Iranian literary figures and artists, such as the poet Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, and Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, the traditional Iranian singer and composer. Ferdowsi and Akhavan Sales are both buried in Tus, an ancient city that is considered to be the main origin of the current city of Mashhad.


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On 30 October 2009 (the anniversary of the death of Imam Reza), Iran's then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Mashhad to be "Iran's spiritual capital".



Etymology and Early History

The name Mashhad comes from Arabic, meaning a shrine or the place of martyrdom. It is also known as the place where Ali ar-Ridha (Persian, Imam Reza), the eighth Imam of Shia Muslims, died (according to the Shias, was martyred). Reza's shrine was placed there.


The ancient Parthian city of Patigrabanâ, mentioned in the Behistun inscription (520 BCE) of the Achaemenid Emperor Darius I, may have been located at the present-day Mashhad.

At the beginning of the 9th century (3rd century AH), Mashhad was a small village called Sanabad, which was situated 24 kilometres (15 miles) away from Tus. There was a summer palace of Humayd ibn Qahtaba, the governor of Khurasan. In 808, when Harun al-Rashid, Abbasid caliph, was passing through there to quell the insurrection of Rafi ibn al-Layth in Transoxania, he became ill and died. He was buried under the palace of Humayd ibn Qahtaba. Due to this historical event, the Dar al-Imarah was known as the Mausoleum of Haruniyyeh. Several years later in 818 Ali al-Ridha was martyred by al-Ma'mun and was buried beside the grave of Harun.[13] Although Mashhad is considered as the owner of cultural heritage of Tus (including its figures like Nizam al-Mulk, Al-Ghazali, Ahmad Ghazali, Ferdowsi, Asadi Tusiand Shaykh Tusi), the earlier Arab geographers have correctly identified Mashhad and Tus as two separate cities, which are now located about 19 kilometres (12 miles) from each other.[citation needed]

Mongolian invasion: Ilkhanates

Although some believe that after this event, the city was called Mashhad al-Ridha (the place of martyrdom of al-Ridha), it seems that Mashhad, as a place-name, first appears in al-Maqdisi, i.e. in the last third of the 10th century. About the middle of the 14th century, the traveller Ibn Battuta uses the expression "town of Mashhad al-Rida". Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the name Nuqan, which is still found on coins in the first half of the 14th century under the Il-Khanids, seems to have been gradually ousted by al-Mashhad or Mashhad.

Terken Khatun, Empress of the Khwarazmian Empire, known as "the Queen of the Turks", held captive by Mongol army.

Shias started visiting there for pilgrimage of his grave. By the end of the 9th century, a dome was built on the grave and many buildings and bazaars sprang up around it. During more than a millennium it has been devastated and reconstructed several times.[14] In 1161 however, the Ghuzz Turks succeeded in taking the place, but they spared the sacred area in their pillaging. It was not considered a great city until Mongol raids in 1220, which caused the destruction of many large cities in Khurasan, leaving Mashhad relatively intact in the hands of Mongolian commanders because of the cemetery of Ali Al-Rezza and Harun al-Rashid (the latter was stolen). Thus the survivors of the massacres migrated to Mashhad.[16] The only well-known food in Mashhad, "sholeh Mashhadi" (شله مشهدی) or "Sholeh", dates back to the era of the Mongolian invasion when it is thought to be cooked with any food available (the main ingredients are meat, grains and abundant spices) and be a Mongolian word. When the traveller Ibn Battuta visited the town in 1333, he reported that it was a large town with abundant fruit trees, streams and mills. A great dome of elegant construction surmounts the noble mausoleum, the walls being decorated with colored tiles.

Timurid Empire


It seems that the importance of Sanabad-Mashhad continually increased with the growing fame of its sanctuary and the decline of Tus, which received its death blow in 1389 from Miran Shah, a son of Timur. When the Mongol noble who governed the place rebelled and attempted to make himself independent, Miran Shah was sent against him by his father. Tus was stormed after a siege of several months, sacked and left a heap of ruins; 10,000 inhabitants were massacred. Those who escaped the holocaust settled in the shelter of the 'Alid sanctuary. Tus was henceforth abandoned and Mashhad took its place as the capital of the district.

Later on, during the reign of the Timurid Shahrukh Mirza, Mashhad became one of the main cities of the realm. In 1418, his wife Goharshadfunded the construction of an outstanding mosque beside the shrine, which is known as the Goharshad Mosque. The mosque remains relatively intact to this date, its great size an indicator to the status the city held in the 15th century.

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. Shah Abbas I, who lived in Mashhad from 1585 till his official ascent of the throne in Qazwin in 1587, was not able to retake Mashhad from the Özbegs till 1598. Mashhad was retaken by the Shah Abbas after a long and hard struggle, defeating the Uzbeks in a great battle near Herat as well as managing to drive them beyond the Oxus River. Shah Abbas I wanted to encourage Iranians to go to Mashhad for pilgrimage. He is said to have walked from Isfahan to Mashhad. During the Safavid era, Mashhad gained even more religious recognition, becoming the most important city of Greater Khorasan, as several madrasah and other structures were built besides the Imam Reza shrine. Besides its religious significance, Mashhad has played an important political role as well. The Safavid dynasty has been criticized in a book (Red Shi'sm vs. Black Shi'ism on the perceived dual aspects of the Shi'a religion throughout history) as a period in which although the dynasty didn't form the idea of Black Shi'ism, but this idea was formed after the defeat of Shah Ismail against the Ottoman leader Sultan Yavuz Selim. Black Shi'ism is a product of the Post-Safavid-Period. Under Tahmasp II, in 1722, the Abdalis Afghans invaded Khorasan and seized Mashhad. After three years, Persians besieged them for two months and retook the city in 1726.

Afsharid dynasty

It 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 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 months’ 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 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.



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.

Pahlavi dynasty

Modernization under Reza Shah

The modern development of the city accelerated under the regime of Reza Shah (1925-1941). Shah Reza Hospital (currently Imam Reza Hospital, affiliated to the Basij organization) was founded in 1934, the sugar factory of Abkuh in 1935 and the Faculty of Medicine of Mashhad in 1939. The first power station was installed in 1936 and in 1939 the first urban transport service began with two buses. In this year the first population census was performed, with a result of 76471 inhabitants.

1912 Imam Reza shrine bombardment

In 1911 Yusuf Khan of Herat was declared independent in Mashhad as Muhammad Ali Shah and brought together a large group of reactionaries opposed to the revolution, and keep stirring for some time. This gave Russia the excuse to intervene and 29 March 1912 bombed the city; this bombing killed several people and pilgrims; action against a Muslim shrine caused a great shock to all Islamic countries. On March 29, 1912, the sanctuary of Imam Reza was bombed by the Russian artillery fire, causing some damage, including to the golden dome, resulting in a widespread and persisting resentment in the Shiite Muslim world as well as British India. This bombing was orchestrated by Prince Dabizha (a Georgianwho was the Russian Consul in Mashhad) and General Radko (a Bulgarian who was commander of the Russian Cossacks in the city). Yusuf Khan ended captured by the Persians and executed.

1935 Imam Reza shrine rebellion

In 1935, a backlash against the modernizing, anti-religious policies of Reza Shah erupted in the Mashhad shrine. Responding to a cleric who denounced the Shah's heretical innovations, corruption and heavy consumer taxes, many bazaaris and villagers took refuge in the shrine, chanted slogans such as "The Shah is a new Yazid." For four days local police and army refused to violate the shrine and the standoff was ended when troops from Azerbaijan arrived and broke into the shrine, killing dozens and injuring hundreds, and marking a final rupture between Shi'ite clergy and the Shah. Interestingly, according to some Mashhadi historians, the Goharshad Mosque uprising, which took place in 1935, is an uprising against Reza Shah's decree banning all veils (headscarf and chador) on 8 January 1936.

1941–1979 reforms

Comprehensive planning of Mashhad in 1974

Mashhad experienced population growth after the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941 because of relative insecurity in rural areas, the 1948 drought, and the establishment of Mashhad University in 1949. At the same time, public transport vehicles increased to 77 buses and 200 taxis and the railway link with the capital Tehran was established in 1957. The 1956 census reflected a population of 241,989 people. The increase in population continued in the following years thanks to the increase in Iranian oil revenues, the decline of the feudal social model, the agrarian reform of 1963, the founding of the city's airport, the creation of new factories and the development of the health system. In 1966, the population reached 409,616 inhabitants, and 667,770 in 1976 . The extension of the city was expanded from 16 to 33 square kilometres (170,000,000 to 360,000,000 square feet). 

In 1965 an important urban renewal development project for the surroundings of the shrine of Imam Reza was proposed by the famous Iranian architect and urban designer Dariush Borbor to replace the dilapidated slum conditions which surrounded the historic monuments. The project was officially approved in 1968. In 1977 the surrounding areas were demolished to make way for the implementation of this project. In order to relocate the demolished businesses, a new bazaar was designed and constructed in Meydan-e Ab square (in Persian, by Dariush Borbor. After the revolution the urban renewal project was abandoned.

1994 Imam Reza shrine bombing

On June 20, 1994, a bomb exploded in a prayer hall of the shrine of the Imam Reza[26] The bomb that killed at least 25 people on June 20 in Mashhad exploded on Ashura. The Baluch terrorist, Ramzi Yousef, a Sunni Muslim turned Wahhabi, one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was found to be behind the plot.[28] However, official state media blamed Mehdi Nahvi, a supposed member of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MKO), a fundamentally Marxist organization, in order to prevent sectarian violence.

Mashhad after the Revolution

In 1998 and 2003 there were student disturbances after the same events in Tehran.


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.


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.


There are also over 20 million pilgrims who visit the city every year.

Ethnic Groups

The vast majority of Mashhadi people are ethnic Persians, who form the majority of the city's population. Other ethnic groups include Kurdish and Turkmen people who have emigrated recently to the city from the North Khorasan province. There is also a significant community of non-Arabic speakers of Arabian descent who have retained a distinct Arabian culture, cuisine and religious practices.[citation needed] The people from Mashhad who look East Asian are of Hazara Turkmen, or Uyghur ancestry or indeed a combination of all other ethnic groups as racial mixing has been widely practiced in this region. Among the non-Iranians, there are many immigrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Ethnic Groups
Khorasani Hazaras
Khorasani Turks
Khorasani Kurds

Afghan Population

As neighbouring areas with cultural ties, there has been a long history of population movements between Khorasan and Afghanistan. Like the other areas in Khorasan province where there is an Afghan community due to the influx of Afghan refugees coming from Afghanistan in recent years, the demographic explosion of Mashhad continued with the addition of some 296 000 Afghans Refugees to Mashhad, following the communist revolution of 1978. In many cases, they are no longer refugees but should be mentioned as locals (Iran's Ministry of Interior estimates that the total number of Afghans in Iran is now around 3 million. Considering that there were 296000 Afghans Refugees to Mashhad (from 2.5 million in the whole Iran) following the communist revolution of 1978, the number of Afghans in Mashhad cannot be lesser that 296000 people - and so a rate more than 10.8% should be considered). Afghan refugees originate up to 90% from the provinces of Herat, Farah and Nimruz Province, speak in Dari Farsi and familiar with the culture in Mashhad. Even before the political frontier between Iran and Afghanistan, the Persian-speaking inhabitants from the provinces of Herat and Farah in Afghanistan had had kinship, as well as ethnical, religious, or economic relations with the Iranian province of Khorasan (especially Mashhad, where people speak a dialect akin with Harat dialect). According to Khorasan Razavi's General Administration of Nationals and Immigrants, there are 142,000 registered Afghan citizens living in Khorasan, 95 percent of which were identified in Mashhad.[41] The Afghan immigrants have several neighborhoods around the city, especially in a new quarter to the northeast of Mashhad. This new Afghan quarter evokes the traditional relations of Mashhad with the Herat region and Central Asia. One of the districts inhabited by Afghan immigrants is Golshahr.


Today, the holy shrine and its museum hold one of the most extensive cultural and artistic treasuries of Iran, in particular manuscript books and paintings. Several important theological schools are associated with the shrine of the Eighth Imam.

The second-largest holy city in the world, Mashhad attracts more than 20 million tourists and pilgrims every year, many of whom come to pay homage to the Imam Reza shrine (the eighth Shi'ite Imam). It has been a magnet for travellers since medieval times. Thus, even as those who complete the pilgrimage to Mecca receive the title of Haji, those who make the pilgrimage to Mashhad—and especially to the Imam Reza shrine—are known as Mashtee, a term employed also of its inhabitants. As an important problem, the duration when new passengers stay in Mashhad has been considerably reduced to 2 days nowadays and they prefer to finish their trip immediately after doing pilgrimage and shopping in the markets.[42] There are about 3000-5000 unauthorized residential units in Mashhad,[43] which, as a unique statistic worldwide, has caused various problems in the city.

Although mainly inhabited by Muslims, there were in the past some religious minorities in Mashhad, mainly Jews who were forcibly converted to Islam in 1839 after the Allahdad incident took place for Mashhadi Jews in 1839. They became known as Jadid al-Islam ("Newcomers in Islam"). On the outside, they adapted to the Islamic way of life, but often secretly kept their faith and traditions.



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 made with Turkish knot by craftsmen who emigrated from Tabriz to Mashhad in the nineteenth century. Among the major industries in the city, there is nutrition industries, clothing, leather, textiles, chemicals, steel and non-metallic mineral industries, construction materials factories, handicraft industry and metal industries.

With more than 55% of hotels in Iran, Mashhad is the hub of tourism in Iran. In the geography of tourism, religious places known as the most powerful hub to attract travelers around the world, every year 20 to 30 million pilgrims from Iran and more than 2 million pilgrims and tourists from around the world come to Mashhad, despite some problems. Mashhad is one of the main producers of leather products in the region.

However, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, theft and sexual exploitation are the most important social problems of the city. In Mashhad tour be careful in choosing the hotel a few points: 1-Hotel be near the shrine of Imam Reza (AS) 2-3-star hotel to be high or a very good hotel 3-The hotel is a good hotel for people.

The divorce rate in Mashhad has increased by 35 percent in 2014. Khorasan and Mashhad ranked the second in violence across the country in 2013.

Astan Quds Razavi


At the same time, the city has kept its character as a goal of pilgrimage, dominated by the strength of the economic and political authority of the Astan Quds Razavi, the administration of the Shrine waqf, probably the most important in the Muslim world[citation needed]and the largest active bonyad in Iran. The Astan Quds Razavi is a major player in the economy of the city of Mashhad. The land occupied by the shrine has grown fourfold since 1979 according to the head of the foundation's international relations department. The Shrine of Imam Reza is vaster than Vatican City. The foundation owns most of the real estate in Mashhad and rents out shop space to bazaaris and hoteliers.[51] The main resource of the institution is endowments, estimated to have annual revenue of $210 billion. Ebrahim Raisi is the current Custodian of Astan Quds Razavi.


Padideh Shandiz


Padideh Shandiz International Tourism Development Company, an Iranian private joint-stock holding company, behaves like a public company by selling stocks despite being a joint-stock in the field of restaurants, tourism and construction,[citation needed] with a footbal club (Padideh F.C.; formerly named Azadegan League club Mes Sarcheshmeh). In January 2015, the company was accused of a "fraud" worth $34.3 billion, which is one eighth of Iran budget.

Credit Institutions

Several credit institutions have been established in Mashhad, including Samenolhojaj (مؤسسه مالی و اعتباری ثامن الحجج), Samenola'emmeh (مؤسسه اعتباری ثامن) and Melal (formerly Askariye, مؤسسه اعتباری عسکریه). The depositors of the first institution have faced problem in receiving cash from the institution.


The city's International Exhibition Center is the second most active exhibition center after Tehran, which due to proximity to Central Asian countries hosts dozens of international exhibitions each year.

Companies such as Smart-innovators in Mashhad are pioneers in electrical and computer technology



The language mainly spoken in Mashhad is Persian with a variating Mashhadi accent, which can at times, prove itself as a sort of dialect. The Mashhadi dialect is somewhat different from the Persian dialect in some of its tones and stresses.[57] For instance, the Mashhadi dialect shares vocabulary and phonology with Dari Persian. Likewise, the dialect of Herati in Western Afghanistan is quite similar to the Persian dialect in Mashhad and is akin to the Persian dialects of Khorasan Province, notably those of Mashhad. Hazaragi is another dialect spoken by Hazara people who live as a diaspora community in Mashhad.[58] Today, the Mashhadi dialect is rarely spoken by young people of Mashhad, most of them perceive it as a humiliation. This is thought to be related to the non-positive performance of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).



Religious Seminaries


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.[citation needed]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.

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

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 the his resignation on 19 October 2016.


There are two influential newspapers in Mashhad, Khorasan (خراسان)and Qods (قدس), which have been considered "conservative newspapers" They are two Mashhad-based daily published by and representing the views of their current and old owners: Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs and Astan Quds Razavi, respectively.

Capital of Islamic Culture


The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization named Mashhad 2017's "cultural capital of the Muslim world" in Asia on 24 January 2017.

Main sites


Apart from Imam Reza shrine, there are a number of large parks, the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Nishapur, the tomb of Nader Shah and Kooh Sangi park. The Koohestan Park-e-Shadi Complex includes a zoo, where many wild animals are kept and which attracts many visitors to Mashhad. It is also home to the Mashhad Airbase (formerly Imam Reza airbase), jointly a military installation housing Mirage aircraft, and a civilian international airport.

Some points of interest lie outside the city: the tomb of Khajeh Morad, along the road to Tehran; the tomb of Khajeh Rabi' located 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the city where there are some inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi; and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt, a distance of 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Mashhad along the road to Neishabur. (The three were all disciples of Imam Reza).

Among the other sights are the tomb of the poet Ferdowsi in Tus, 24 kilometres (15 miles) distance, and the summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlamad, Zoshk, and Shandiz.

The Shah Public Bath, built during the Safavid era in 1648, is an outstanding example of the architecture of that period. It was recently restored, and is to be turned into a museum.




Mashhad is served by the Mashhad International Airport, which handles domestic flights to Iranian cities and international flights, mostly to neighbouring Arab countries. The airport is the country's second busiest after Tehran Mehrabad Airport and above the famous Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport.

It is connected to 57 destinations and has frequent flights to 30 cities within Iran and 27 destinations in the Central Asia, the Middle East, East Asia and Europe.


The airport has been under a USD45.7 ml vast expansion project which has been finished by opening a new Haj Terminal with 10,000 m area on 24 May 2010 and followed by opening a new international terminal with 30000 m2 area with a new parking building, a new custom storage and cargo terminal, new safety and fire fighting buildings and upgrades to taxiways and equipment. Another USD26.5 ml development project for construction of new hangar for aircraft repair facilities and expansion of the west side of the domestic terminal is underway using a BOT contract with the private sector


Mashhad Urban Railway Corporation (MURCO) is constructing metro and light rail system for the city of Mashhad which includes four lines with 85 kilometres (53 miles) length. Mashhad Urban Railway Operation Company(MUROC) is responsible for the operation of the lines. Railway Operation Company The first line (LRT) has been exploited since 21 Feb 2011 with 19.5 kilometres (12.1 miles) length and 22 stations and connected to Mashhad International Airport in early 2016 and total length of line 1 increased to 24 kilometers and 24 stations. The second line with 14.5 km length and 13 stations is under construction and is projected to be finished by early 2016. First phase of line 2 with 8 kilometers and 7 station is started since 21 Feb 2017.


Mashhad is connected to three major rail lines: Tehran-Mashhad, Mashhad-Bafgh (running south), and Mashhad-Sarakhs at the border with Turkmenistan. Some freight trains continue from Sarakhs towards Uzbekistan and to Kazakhstan, but have to change bogies because of the difference in Rail gauge. A rail line is being constructed off the Mashhad-Bafgh line to connect Mashhad to Herat in Afghanistan, but has not yet been completed and one is planned to connect to the Gorgan railhead and the port of Bandar Torkaman on the Caspian Sea to the west. Passenger rail services are provided by Raja Passenger Trains Company[68] and all trains are operated by R.A.I.,[69] Rah-Ahan (Railway) of Iran, the national railway company.

A new service from Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan to Mashad, Iran was launched in December 2016.


Road 95 links Mashhad south to Torbat-e Heydarieh and Birjand. Road 44 goes west towards Shahrud and Tehran. Road 22 travels northwest towards Bojnurd. Ashgabat in Turkmenistan is 220 km away and is accessible via Road 22 (AH78). Herat in Afghanistan is 310 km away and accessible via Road 97 (AH1).

Government and politics

Members of Parliament

Mashhad's current members of parliament are described as politician with fundamentalist conservative tendencies, who are mostly the members of Front of Islamic Revolution Stability, an Iranian principlist political group. They were elected to the Parliament on 26 February 2016.

Members of Assembly of Experts

Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi and Ahmad Alamolhoda are two members of the Iranian Assembly of Experts from Mashhad. Hashemi Shahroudi is currently First Vice-Chairman of the Iranian Assembly of Experts. He was the Head of Iran's Judiciary from 1999 until 2009 who upon accepting his position, appointed Saeed Mortazavi, a well known fundamentalist and controversial figure during President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's reelection, prosecutor general of Iran.[72] Interestingly, he was supported by Mashhad's reformists as the candidate of the Fifth Assembly on 26 February 2016.

City Council and Mayor

In 2013, an Iranian principlist political group, Front of Islamic Revolution Stability (which is partly made up of former ministers of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi),[73] gained a landslide victory in Mashhad City Council,[74] which on September 23, 2013, elected Seyed Sowlat Mortazavi as mayor, who was former governor of the province of South Khorasan and the city of Birjand.[75] The municipality's budget amounted to 9600 billion Toman in 2015.

Universities and Colleges



  • Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
  • Ferdowsi University of Mashhad - International Campus
  • Golbahar University of Science and New Technology
  • Imam Reza International University
  • Islamic Azad University of Khorasan - Golbahar International Campus
  • Islamic Azad University of Mashhad
  • Khayyam University
  • Mashhad University of Medical Sciences
  • Payame Noor University of Mashhad
  • Razavi University of Islamic Sciences
  • Sadjad University of Technology
  • Sama Technical and Vocational Training Center (Islamic Azad University of Mashhad)
  • Sport Sciences Research Institute of Iran


  • Al Mustafa International University
  • Alzahra Girls Technical and Vocational College of Mashhad (Technical and Vocational University)
  • Arman Razavi Girls Institute of Higher Education
  • Asrar Institute of Higher Education
  • Attar Institute of Higher Education
  • Bahar Institute of Higher Education
  • Binalood Institute of Higher Education
  • Cultural Heritage, Hand Crafts, and Tourism Higher Education Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Eqbal Lahoori Institute of Higher Education
  • Ferdows Institute of Higher Education
  • Hakim Toos Institute of Higher Education
  • Hekmat Razavi Institute of Higher Education
  • Iranian Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research, Mashhad Branch (Jahad Daneshgahi of Mashhad)
  • Jahad Keshavarzi Higher Education Center of Khorasan Razavi (Shahid Hashemi Nejad)
  • Kavian Institute of Higher Education
  • Kharazmi Azad Institute of Higher Education of Khorasan
  • Khavaran Institute of Higher Education
  • Kheradgarayan Motahar Institute of higher education
  • Khorasan Institute of Higher Education
  • Khorasan Razavi Judiciary Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Khorasan Razavi Municipalities' Institute of Research, Education, and Consultation of (University of Science and Technology)
  • Mashhad Aviation Industry Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Mashhad Aviation Training Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Mashhad Culture and Art Center 1 (University of Science and Technology)
  • Mashhad Koran Reciters Society
  • Mashhad Prisons Organization Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Mashhad Tax center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Navvab Higher Clerical School
  • Part Tyre Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Red Crescent Society of Khorasan Razavi (University of Science and Technology)
  • Salman Institute of Higher Education
  • Samen Teacher Training Center of Mashhad (Farhangian University)
  • Samen Training Center of Mashhad (Technical and Vocational University)
  • Sanabad Golbahar Institute of Higher Education
  • Shahid Beheshti Teacher Training College (Farhangian University)
  • Shahid Hashemi Nejad Teacher Training College (Farhangian University)
  • Shahid Kamyab Teacher Training Center
  • Shahid Montazari Technical Faculty (Technical and Vocational University)
  • Shandiz Institute of Higher Education
  • Khorasan Razavi Taavon Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Tabaran Institute of Higher Education
  • Toos Institute of Higher Education
  • Toos Porcelain Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Varastegan Medical Sciences Institute of Higher Education
  • Khorasan Water and Electricity Industry Center (University of Science and Technology)
  • Workers' House; Mashhad Branch (University of Science and Technology)


Major sport teams

Padideh F.C.
Iran Pro League
FootballSamen Stadium
FC Mashhad
Iran Pro League
FootballTakhti Stadium
Samen Mashhad BC
Iranian Basketball Super League
BasketballShahid Beheshti Sport Complex
Mizan Khorasan VC
Iranian Volleyball Super League
VolleyballShahid Beheshti Sport Complex
Farsh Ara Mashhad FSC
Iranian Futsal Super League
FutsalShahid Beheshti Sport Complex
Ferdosi Mashhad FSC
Iranian Futsal Super League
FutsalShahid Beheshti Sport Complex
Rahahan Khorasan W.C.
Iranian Premier Wrestling League
Freestyle wrestlingMohammad Ali Sahraei Hall[77]

Other sports

City was host to 2009 Junior World Championships in sitting volleyball where Iran's junior team won Gold.

Mashhad as capital of Persia and Independent Khorasan

The following Shahanshahs had Mashhad as their capital:

  • Kianid Dynasty
  • Malek Mahmoud Sistani 1722–1726
  • Afsharid dynasty
  • Nader Shah
  • Adil Shah
  • Ebrahim Afshar
  • Shahrukh Afshar
  • Nadir Mirza of Khorasan
  • Safavid Dynasty
  • Soleyman II
  • Autonomous Government of Khorasan
  • Colonel Mohammad Taghi Khan Pessyan