Each year, the city of Mashhad celebrates spring with a Flower Festival. More than eight million bulbous flowers (e.g. tulips) are being planted in parks and streets and can be enjoyed until mid-May.
Mashhad (Persian: مشهد) with 3.150.000 inhabitants 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 Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv in the East.
Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Reza shrine. 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 located 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 250km (160 mi) away from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Long a center of secular and religious learning, Mashhad has been a center for the arts and for the sciences. The Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, the Madrassa of Ayatollah Al-Khoei, originally built in the seventeenth century, and the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, founded in 1984, are located here.
Mashhad is also home to one of the oldest libraries of the Middle-East with a history of over six centuries. The Astan-e Quds Razavi Museum, which is part of the Astan-e Quds Razavi Complex, is home to over 70,000 rare manuscripts from various historical eras. There are some six million historical documents in the foundation’s central library.
Apart from Imam Reza shrine, there are a number of large parks, the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Nishapur, the tomb of Nadir Shah, Kooh Sangi park and the Koohestan Park-e-Shadi Complex.
Some points of interest lie outside the city: the tomb of Khajeh Morad, the tomb of Khajeh Rabi’ where there are some inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt. In Tus, 24km away from Mashhad, is the tomb of Ferdowsi. The summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlamad, Zoshk and Shandiz are also nearby.
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.
Other articles about Razavi Khorasan Province: The other Iran | Razavi Khorasan Province
Sources: IRNA | Photos, Wikipedia | Mashhad, Tasnim News Agency | Photos