Mashhad (Persian: مشهد ; About this sound listen (help·info)) is the second most populous city in Iran and capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the northeast of the country, close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its population is 3,131,586 . It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv in the East.
The city is most famous and revered for housing the tomb of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam. Every year, millions of pilgrims ...see more visit the Imam Reza shrine and pay their tributes to Imam Reza.
Mashhad is also known as the city of Ferdowsi, the Iranian poet of Shahnameh, which is considered to be the national epic of Iran. The city is the hometown of some of the most significant Iranian literary figures and artists such as Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, the famous contemporary poet, and Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, the traditional Iranian singer and composer. Ferdowsi and Akhavan Sales are both buried in Tus, an ancient city that is considered to be the main origin of the current city of Mashhad.
The city is located at 36.20º North latitude and 59.35º East longitude, in the valley of the Kashaf River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and Hezar-masjed. The city benefits from the proximity of the mountains, having cool winters, pleasant springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. It is only about 250 km (160 mi) from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
The city is the administrative center of Mashhad County (or the Shahrestan of Mashhad) as well as the somewhat smaller district (Bakhsh) of Mashhad. The city itself, excluding parts of the surrounding Bakhsh and Shahrestan, is divided into 13 smaller administrative units, with a total population of more than 3 million.
The vast majority of Mashhadi people are ethnic Persians, who form over 95% of the city's population. Other ethnic groups include Kurdish and Turkmen people who have emigrated recently to the city from the North Khorasan province. The people of Mashhad who look like Asians are of Turkmen or Hazara descent.
Among the non-Iranians, there are immigrant population of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. The Afghan immigrants have several neighborhoods around the city. One of the districts inhabited by Afghan immigrants is Golshahr.
There are also over 20 million pilgrims who visit the city every year.