Mashad (Mashhad, Meshed)
- The holy city of Mashad, the most important pilgrimage center in Iran, is located in the northeast of Khorasan Province, 892 Km (535 miles) from Tehran and about 80 km (50 mi) from the border with Turkmenistan. It has population of over 2 million.
- The name Mashad means the Place of Burial of a Martyr. The main reason for its fame is the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, Eighth Shiite Saint.
- Although an ancient settlement, Mashhad did not begin to grow until the 9th century when it became a pilgrimage center. Before the blessing of the Imam Reza, it was a village called Sanabad. Partially destroyed in 1220 by Mongols and again during the 16th century by other Central Asian tribes, the city was much beautified by Shah Abbas I. From 1736 to 1747 under Nadir Shah it served as the capital of Persia.
- Sanabad is important for two reasons. First, Harron-Al-Rashid, the Abbasi Caliph was buried there in 773 AD. Second, 10 years later, Imam Reza by the order of Mamoon was poisoned and martyred in Sanabad and buried close by Harun's grave.
- Located in the center of a productive agricultural region, Mashhad is a major transportation center. It is an important market for the wool trade and is well known for carpet manufacturing. Tourism is also important to the economy, as over 12 million visit Mashad each year. During the Afghan-Russian war many Afghan refugees came to Mashad (see Afghanistan).
Razavie Grand Hotel, a first-class hotel to left, Imam Reza shrine to right.