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Mashhad

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Interactive map of Mashhad (OpenStreetMap)

Imam Reza shrine

Almost everything about Mashhad relates to its role as the holiest city in Iran, even its name (literally: burial place of the martyr). As the capital of Iran's Khorasan province, Mashhad's year-round cool temperatures and fascinating insights into the Shi'ite heartland have much to offer visitors.

Understand[edit]

Mashhad started life out as Sanabad, a village pitstop for trade caravans headed towards Turkmenistan. But in the ninth century, the eighth Shi'ite Imam Ali Bin Moosa Al Reza, the great grand son of Imam Ali who was the cousin & son in law of Prophet Mohammad was poisoned by the jealous caliph of the time. Imam Reza was buried in Mashhad, and his shrine became one of the holiest sites to the shi'ite muslims after the Holy Kaaba in Saudi Arabia and Karbala in Iraq.

Over the next thousand years, the shrine complex was levelled, ransacked and rebuilt a number of times depending on the ruling army of the day. Today the Shrine is the most important place in the city and in the whole of Iran.

Dress code for women is strict, as it is in any part of Iran, however a self encompassing chador is not a must for any lady in public place in city. For women, a simple headscarf or roo-sari, with a trenchcoat and pants are fine. Men are also not allowed to wear shorts. These rules are the same for any and all cities and villages in Iran; it is national law.

Photography inside the holy Shrine is not permissible as all visitors will be frisked at the various gates leading to the Shrine. There are separate entry gates for ladies and gents.

Get in[edit]

Gonabad is 260km from Mashhad. There are two roads to Tehran which is about 900km west of Mashhad. Sarakhs, the closest border to Turkmenistan is 200km west of the city.

By air[edit]

  • Mashhad International Airport (Shahid Hashemi Nejad Airport) (IATA: MHD) (ICAO: OIMM)

There are flights from all the cities which have airport to Mashhad. The large cities like Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz has flies everyday maybe more than 2~3 times a day.

One of the route to reach Mashhad is from Kish Island. Mahan Air flies 6 times per week and Kish Air flies three times per week from Kish Island to Mashhad. The flight takes around 2 hours, the planes Airbus 300 & McDonnell MD 83 are 20 years old on average, and might give you a scary feeling. But the plane crew is decent and converse in good english. The return ticket will cost USD 200 can be bought from travel agencies in Kish (Near Kish Air head office or Mahan Air Office)

Tomb of Nader Shah

There are International flights to Bahrain, Damascus, Dubai, Kuwait, Bishkek, Beirut, Jeddah, Dushanbe, Kabul, Doha, Almaty, Lahore and Istanbul.

By train[edit]

There is train to Mashhad from Tehran. There are more than 3 different trains in different prices and qualities every day (mostly they leave afternoon or evening). Its about 10~14 hours way.

There is also a train connection to Kerman: 14 - 16 hours, departs at 1 pm, but not everyday. 300000 Rials.

There is also a high speed daily train between Tehran and Mashhad (Moves about 6 am everyday)which travels the distance in 8 hours.

You get here from Turkmenistan. There are trains from Ashgabat and Merv to the Sarakhs border. And at the other side of the border there is a daily train from Sarakhs border to Mashad.

By bus[edit]

There is mostly night buses to Mashhad from other important cities. There are NO international buses from Ashgabat or anywhere in Turkmenistan.

By bicycle[edit]

Sarakhs border crossing: the area near the border is not safe and considered dangerous even by Iranians, incident of two guys raiding a tent and trying to rape a female while camping at night occurred on Sep 2012 around 20km from the border (not reported to the police). Cross early and cycle at least 50km before trying to find camp. The road is in good condition, a few ups and downs and one good uphill before reaching Mashhad.

Get around[edit]

By Metro[edit]

Map of Mashhad metro

Mashhad's Metro(better said city train) is newly utilized and surprisingly high quality and organized. It currently has only one line. This line is in east-west direction and connects Vakilabad to Ghadir St. (Nakhrisi). It also takes you to Imam Reza's shrine. This line is soon going to be extended to the Mashhad international airport. The second line of Mashhad's metro is currently under construction. It will connect the north east of the city to the south west of it and will meet the first line in Shariati Sq. (Taghiabad) There are two payment systems. You can either buy tickets (One way and return)or buy none-contact cards known as "Man Kart". These cards can also be used for buses all around the city. Each inner trip deducts 500 Tomans (15 US Cents)from your card which is a quite cheap price. There are partitions exclusively for ladies but they have the choice to travel in other sections. This metro/train travels half a way above the ground and other half underground.

Mashhad's metro.jpeg
Mashhad's metro sign.jpeg

By Bus[edit]

A huge squad of clean and new buses take you almost everywhere in the town. In each bus station, there is a shelter with glassy walls in which there is a clean wooden bench and a map attached on the wall. They could be easily recognized by outsiders. Unfortunately, all the maps, guides and bus numbers are written in Persian numbers but don't worry. Friendly people are always there and will be more than happy to help you. The only way to pay for the buses is none-contact cards called "Man Kart". You should hit your card either at the front or the rear door at the time of getting on the bus. You can buy the card and charge its credit in booths which can be found in some main stations and all the bus terminals. You can also do it in Metro stations. If you get in the buses and you don't have a card, you can ask a passenger to hit their card for you and you can pay them 200 Tomans. Most of them will refuse to take the money though. Before getting a bus, make sure you know which station to get off. A computer system automatically announces each station right before getting to it.

A bus station in one of the streets of Mashhad


By bicycle[edit]

There has recently installed some stations in many locations around the city, in which there are nearly 20 uniform bicycles all colored in yellow. The system is not officially utilized but it's supposed to be within next few days. These bicycles most probably can be unlocked by the "Man Kart". The rules and regulations of the city bicycle system are yet unknown. There are rumors that use of the bicycles are not allowed for ladies.

See[edit][add listing]

Apart from Imam Reza shrine there is a number of large parks, the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Nishapur, the tomb of Nadir Shah and Kooh Sangi park and Mellat Park that have modern attractions for children such as the tallest Ferris wheel or fanfar in Iran and Koohestan Park-e-Shadi Complex that 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 kilometers 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 kilometers 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 kilometers 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.


  • Imam Reza Shrine Complex is also a mausoleum to the eighth Imam of Shia Islam. Complex includes a library and Ghoharshad mosque. It is the largest mosque in the world by dimension and the second largest in capacity. Need to leave bags and cameras on the kept luggage outside, only photos-videos with mobile phone are allowed inside the complex. If you enter through the main gate you will be assigned with an English speaking guide who will take you around for free and tell you some interesting information, end up in one of the offices in which you will be offered religious books and some postcard souvenirs of the shrine, all free. If you dress modest and try to enter through the side gates, you might manage to pass and then you will be free to enter the center of the shrine which is normally not allowed to non-Muslims, just be careful as they close the gates when its time for praying. There is no entrance free. [Sep 2012]
  • Nader Shah Park & Mausoleum Monument to the founder of Afshar dynasty (1736 - 1747)
  • Ferdowsi Park & Mausoleum
  • Gombade Sabz Mausoleum
  • Torghabe, Sightseeing, village restaurants
  • Shandiz,village restaurants
  • Sculptures You can find beautiful and artistic sculptures in many spots all around the city. Near the Iranian new year (Norouz), each year, the city's sculpture artists get together and participate a competition for the best city element of Norouz. The best sculptures chosen by the citizens through an online survey, will remain on the spot for the rest of the year. Others will be moved to the parks and other places in which have less chance to be seen.
One of the sculptures called "father and children" in Sajjad Neighborhood


Buy[edit][add listing]

Saffron costs 2200$ per kilogram

Mashhad has three large bazaars. Interesting things to buy include Khorassan crafts, fur-cloak, jewelry, perfume, saffron, and religious souvenirs.

  • Bazaar-e Reza (or Bazaar-e Bozorg) two stories height and one of the main shopping centres in the town.
  • Sara-ye Bazaar-e Reza Mostly a fabric and textile bazaar.
  • Kuwaiti Bazaar, om th 17th Shahrivar Square.
  • Bazaar-e bozorg-e markazy, on the corner of shirazi Av. and akhond-e khorasani st.(SHohada

crossroad).

  • Shargh-Zist Trade Center All things with best prices, Tabarsi Sqr, north side of Holy Shrine.
  • Proma Trade Center , Janbaz Sqr.
  • Almas-e Shargh , Northern Khayyam Blvd.
  • Zist Khavar , Shariaty Sqr.
  • Sajjad Blvd. You can find few good quality shopping centers in this Blvd(a bit expensive).  edit

Bicycle[edit]

There is a good GIANT bicycle shop {GPS 36°18'09.3"N, 059°34'36.1"E} with lots of spare parts near the intersection of Kolahdouz Boulevard and Salman-e-Farsi street.

Learn[edit]

  • Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, [1]
  • Medical & Health University of Mashhad, [2]
  • Sadjad Institute of Technology "SIT", [3]
  • ImamReza International University, [4]
  • Azad University of mashhad, [5]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Iranian cuisine is tasty, while not spicy. Chello Kebab is a very popular dish as well as Bakhtiari Kebab. Their are also different kinds of breads available. So eating will be a assured good and affordable experience in Mashhad

You can find lots of great restaurants and all kinds of fast-foods are available. the most advertised restaurant of Mashhad (and one of the most expensive) is 'Padide Shandiz'. There are also numerous other decent restaurants in Shandiz. Full meals with rice cost from 5 to 20 dollars.

the main building of Padide Shandiz.

You can find a kind of ice-cream named ice pack "persian: آیس پک" in mashhad. it's really great to taste it. There are lots of Ice Pack bars in mashhad. The main one is placed at "Shariati Sqr". This kind of ice-cream can be found with all kinds of flavors like "chocolate , apple , cherry , strawberry , coffee , peach and all kind of fruits you can imagine" This type of ice-cream invented in Iran, is even getting popular in the United States of America.

chocolate ice-pack
  • markaz amozesh az rah dor doctor hesabi, mashhad-seyedi-khiyaban ghaem, 0511-3851635, [6]. 15-19.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Mashhad attracts huge number of visitors specially during the summer months, so be sure to make travel reservations in advance. Mashhad can also be very cold during winters, hence heavy woolens are required during winters. Even in summers nights are pretty cold and requires light woolens.

Five-star hotels in the city are: Pars Hotel [7], Ghasr Talaee international Hotel , Ghasr International Hotel and Pardisan Hotel. There are also couple of good hotels near the Imam Ali Bin Moosa Al Reza Shrine, namely Khayyam Hotel, Ghadir International to name a few. The Shrine is 10 min. walk from the Khayyam Hotel and the rent for double bedroom with attached bath is around 100-120 USD per night. but the rent for Ghasr Talaee Hotel is very expensive about 400 USD per night. But there are lots of rooms for rent around the shrine which are pretty cheap and suitable to rent, they are ranged from 30-90 USD per night depending on the distance from shrine.

  • Ghasr Hotel, Emam Reza st..  edit
  • Darvishi Hotel, Emam Reza st..  edit
  • Iran Hotel (Khosravi No), Mashhad, Iran, 098 511 2228010.  edit
  • Sayeh Hotel, Emam Reza st. (go south from Javad Hotel, first street right, it is on the left side after ten meters), 0098 511 8514830 93. 9-floors, clean, mostly pilgram guests, friendly staff (ask for Reza, his English is good) double 950,000 IRR w/ breakfast, 850,000 IRR w/o breakfast (March 14 2014).  edit
  • Vali's non smoking homestay, 38th (Farsi:۳۸) alley (previously 6th) off Malakoshoaraye Bahar street, house 277 (Farsi:۲۷۷) (close to Lashgar square at the intersection with Imam Khomeini street), 851 6980, 0915 100 1324 (), [8]. Vali is a carpet merchant and a regional guide. He seems to be a bit too friendly at times, especially if you are a single female traveler. The doors on the private rooms do not lock and some single females have reported feeling unsafe. He offers to go to you to the Turkmenistan embassy to pick up your visa for an extra fee of 20 USD (it's just a 10 minute walk from his place, so there's usually little reason to use that service). Dorm or outside in the courtyard $10, double $25, breakfast $2, dinner $5. (36.28223,59.59404) edit

Get out[edit]

  • There's buses leaving to Quchan and other places from the Meraj bus station

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