Historic cultural capitals - Mashhad

Mashhad (Mashhed) - It is the sacred capital of Iran and the second most populous city after Tehran. Before the death of Imam Reza it were called Sanabad. This is one of the most famous cities among Shia Muslims. Mashhad attracts more than 20 million tourists and pilgrims every year, many of them come to stay near the Imam Reza Shrine , a complex which contains the mausoleum of Imam Reza. It is the largest mosque in the world by dimension and the second largest by capacity. Other important part of it are Goharshad Mosque (15 century), Razavi museum, library, cemetery, Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, dining hall for pilgrims and vast prayer halls. The construction of complex began by the end of 9th century.

Another point of interest is the tomb of Nadir Shah. He was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. During his reign Mashhad became the capital of Persia and a base for his numerous campaigns to India.

The ancient Persian city of Tus is 20 kilometers away from Mashhad. For the first time it mentiond in the history when it was captured by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. In 809 the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid fell ill and died in Tus, on his way to solve the unrest in Khorasan. Now his resting place named zendan-e-Harun.

The most famous resident of Tus was the great Iranian epic poet Ferdowsi, who lived in the 10th century. The tomb of Ferdowsi is a complex composed of a white marble base, a decorative edifice and uses mainly elements of Achaemenid architecture.

Another ancient Persian city located near Mashhad is Nishabur. Once it was a great city and a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center. Before the invasion of the Arabs it was among the ten largest cities in the world.

The main tourist attraction here is Omar Khayyam mausoleum, the world famous Persian poet of the 11th century, who was born and buried here and his mausoleum today is a masterpiece of Iranian modern architecture.

He was not only a poet, but the author of profound philosophical and mathematical treatises.

Poetry lovers can also visit the tomb of Sheikh Attar; which is located in Nishabur. Farid-ud-din Attar - was a Persian poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nishabur who had an immense and lasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism..

The famous painter of the 19-20 centuries – Kamal-ol-Molk (1847-1940) was also buried here.

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