May 28, 2024

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Mashhad: unforgettable adventures await in northeast Iran

TEHRAN – If you are a traveler seeking a destination that smoothly blends religious, cultural heritage, and natural beauty, Mashhad may be a great choice.

Situated in northeast Iran, Mashhad is not only a significant pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims but also a treasure trove of historical and natural wonders.

The ancient city recorded some four million overnight stays, mainly by domestic travelers, in the first three months of the current Iranian calendar year (started on March 21).

A promising hub for medical tourism, Mashhad’s medical tourism revenues were about 1.119 trillion rials (some $2.2 million) during the first three months of the current Iranian year, which shows 35 percent growth year on year, according to data compiled by the medical tourism department at the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences.

Let’s delve into the mesmerizing attractions this city offers visitors:

Religious tourism

Mashhad is home to the vibrant and magnificent holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS). As the largest mosque in the world by area, the shrine beckons millions of devout Muslims each year.

The sacred complex not only features stunning architectural elements, but is also a place of pilgrimage, prayer, and promise. Visitors can witness the fervent devotion of pilgrims and explore the intricate artwork while they soak in the serene atmosphere.

Iran eyes a UNESCO status for the spiritual tradition of pilgrimage to the holy shrine, which is associated with special rituals, ceremonies, and hospitality services.

Cultural tourism

Steeped in history, Mashhad boasts a wealth of cultural heritage sites. The Goharshad Mosque, adjacent to the holy shrine, is a masterpiece of Persian architecture with its intricate tiled designs.

Ravaged by multiple invasions, it has been meticulously restored to its former glory. Another remarkable architectural gem is the Nader Shah Museum, housed in the mausoleum of the great Persian emperor (1688–1747), who was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty of Iran. This museum showcases an impressive collection of artifacts from various eras, shedding light on Iran’s rich history.

Moreover, Mashhad is a gateway to several top destinations nearby. Tus, for example, is an ancient city where the illustrious Persian poet Ferdowsi is laid to rest. The city was captured by Alexander the Great in c. 330 BC and it was destroyed once during the Mongol invasion, and again by the Timurids, and many of its people were killed.

Nature tourism

While Mashhad is primarily known for its religious and cultural offerings, it also offers an escape to nature lovers.

Just a short drive outside the city, you’ll find the breathtaking landscape of Shandiz. Surrounded by picturesque mountains, this charming village is famous for its cool climate and lush greenery, making it a perfect retreat during the summer months.

Visitors can feast on local delights in traditional restaurants and enjoy leisurely walks amid nature’s embrace.

For those seeking outdoor adventure, the nearby Torqabeh village further enhances the natural allure with its cascading waterfalls and verdant meadows.

Culinary delights

No visit to Mashhad is complete without indulging in the tantalizing Persian cuisine. The city is renowned for its mouthwatering kebabs, saffron-infused rice, and aromatic stews. Steeped in tradition, Mashhad’s culinary delights and flavors will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.


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