Mashhad (Persian: مشهد, romanized: Mašhad [mæʃˈhæd] (listen)), also spelled Mashad,[5][6][7] is the second-most-populous city in Iran, located in the relatively remote north-east of the country[8] about 900 kilometres (560 miles) from Tehran.[9] It serves as the capital of Razavi Khorasan Province and has a population of 3,001,184 (2016 census), which includes the areas of Mashhad Taman and Torqabeh.[10]

Sanaabad, Tus, Alexandria
From up: Bird's eye view of Mashhad, Nader Shah Tomb, Ferdowsi Tomb, Hedayat Little Bazzar, Mashhad at night, Imam Reza Shrine, Cable Intersection, Shah Mosque
Mashhad: Smart City, City of Hope and Life
Location in Iran
Coordinates: 36°18′N 59°36′E
Country Iran
ProvinceRazavi Khorasan
Mashhad-Sanabad-Tus818 AD
  MayorAbdollah Erjaee Shirazi
  Chairperson of City CouncilHassan Movahedian
  City351 km2 (136 sq mi)
995 m (3,264 ft)
 (2016 census)
  Population Rank in Iran
 Over 20 million pilgrims and tourists per year[4]
Demonym(s)Mashhadi, Mashadi, Mashdi (informal)
Time zoneUTC+03:30 (IRST)
Largest district by areaDistrict 9 (64 km2, land area)
Largest district by populationDistrict 2 (480,000)

The city has been governed by different ethnic groups over the course of its history. Mashhad was once a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv to the east. It enjoyed relative prosperity in the Mongol period. The city is named after the shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam, who was buried in a village in Khorasan which afterward gained the name, meaning the "place of martyrdom". Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Reza shrine. The Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid is also buried within the same shrine.

Mashhad is also known colloquially as the city of Ferdowsi, after the Iranian poet who composed the Shahnameh. The city is the hometown of some of the most significant Iranian literary figures and artists, such as the poet Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, 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. On 30 October 2009 (the anniversary of Imam Reza's martyrdom), Iran's then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Mashhad to be "Iran's spiritual capital".[11][12]

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