Mashhad is a pilgrimage and tourism city located in the North East of Iran. We can tell this city is one of the most important tourism attractions of Iran; and also, is the second pilgrimage city of the world.
Due to the presence of the shrine of Ali ibn Musa al-Reza, the eighth Imam of the Shiites in the world, this city annually receives more than 27 million pilgrims from inside and two million pilgrims from abroad.
The word Mashhad, means Place of witness and testimony. Shiites believe that, Ma’mun, the Abbasid caliph, killed Ali ibn Musa al-Reza in 818 AC; and this is the reason of naming this city “Mashhad”. In the next decades, a tomb was built for him; and through the history, different rulers embellished and renovated it.
With the recognition of the Shiite religion in the Safavid dynasty, the rulers added many buildings and monuments to the shrine. In addition to donating the first shrine, Shah Tahmasb ordered the reconstruction and gilding of the dome; and the gilding of the garland next to the dome. During this period, the porticos of Dar al-Fayz, Towhidkhaneh, the portico of Hatam Mkhani dome, the dome of Allahverdi Khan and the portico of Sheikh Baha’uddin were added to the sanctuary.
Imam Reza shrine is not only the mausoleum of Imam Reza; and contains Goharshad mosque, a cemetery, the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, a dining hall for pilgrims, vast prayer halls, a museum, a library, four seminaries and other buildings.
Goharshad Mosque is located on the South side of Ali ibn Musa al-Reza’s shrine. The mosque was built under the order of Shahrokh’s wife, one of Timurid rulers. As you can easily recognize, the mosque has her name. Due to the elegance and beauty of tiling and the architectural style of Goharshad Mosque, this mosque is one of the masterpieces of Iranian architecture in the Timurid period. And due to it’s many endowments and proximity to the tomb of Ali ibn Musa al-Reza, it is one of the most important and crowded mosques in Iran. So that some consider it as the most visited mosque in Iran.
Goharshad Mosque, built in the style of four-porch mosques, is a classic mosque. The courtyard of the mosque is almost square shape and there are four large historical porches around it. The dome of Goharshad mosque is 41 meters high above the porch; and it’s exterior is decorated with glazed bricks and an inscription in Kufic script. On both sides of this dome, are two minarets located. Each are 43 meters tall, and embellished with inscriptions. These minarets start from the ground; they continuously go up to the porch of the mausoleum and become in the form of a spire.
In addition to the pilgrimage tourism attractions, there are plenty of historical and natural tourism attractions in Mashhad city. The most famous historical attractions of Mashhad are Ferdowsi tomb and Harouniyeh dome.
Harouniyeh dome belongs to the 13th century AC; and is the oldest building left from the city of Toos. Harouniyeh is among the works in the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran’s list; and is also, one of the national monuments of Iran since December 6, 1961 with registration number 173. This historical place is located about 600 meters from the tomb of the Abolghasem Ferdowsi. Next to this building, you can see a black stone as a monument to Imam Mohammad Ghazali, a mystic of the tenth and eleventh centuries AC, which some consider to be his burial place.
According to the form of architecture, the origin of the building is related to the Ilkhani period and the style of Azeri architecture. Parts of this building were added during the Timurid period. Haruniyeh is similar to Razi architectural style; and on this principle it is considered to belong to the 11 century AC.
Ferdowsi tomb is burial place of Abulqasm Ferdowsi, the great Iranian epic writer. The architect of this alluring tomb is Houshang Seyhoon. Actually, he designed this place based on Karim Taherzade Behzad’s previous plan. This building is one of the National Iranian Heritages.
The structure of the tomb is quadrangular and it’s area is 1043 square meters. The building has stairs on all sides. The building is located on a platform in the form of a simple cube with a height of 18 meters.
The entrance to the inner part of the tomb is from the west. Two stairs lead from the north and south sides to the basement and the burial chamber. On the wall of the stairs, there are six pieces of relief stone plan that were located on both sides of the entrance corridor of the burial chamber before the reconstruction. These pieces narrate the stories of ” Rostam’s battle”, “War of Iranian and Turanian heroes” and “Battle of Rostam and Sohrab”.
In addition to the beautiful historical sights in Mashhad city, there are also alluring natural sights found here too. And if you are into natural sights, we recommend you to visit rocky mountain park and Mellat park. You can have a nice, fun day having a picnic in these parks.