The metropolitan, Mash’had, is in northeastern Iran and the capital of Khorasan Razavi province. It was the capital of Iran in Afsharid Dynasty. Mashhad with 328 square kilometers, is the second largest city in Iran after Tehran. Mash’had is the second most populous city after Tehran with the approximate poulation of 3,000,000 persons. Because of its existence of Shrine of Imam Reza , the eighth Imam of Shia, the city annually receives more than 27 million pilgrims from Iran and two million pilgrims from abroad. The city is located near Kashaf river and between Hezar Masjed Mountains and Binaloud. The highest part of Mash’had is 1150 meters and the lowest part is 950 meters.
The city has an international airport, a railway station and three terminals for the transportation of domestic and international tours. Mash’had’s economy relies on religious tourism and focused on the shrine of Imam Reza. In addition, there are big commercial centers and medical facilities which are impressive and has boosted the recreational tourism and health tourism in this city. More than 93% of the city’s population speak Persian. In 2007 the city was selected as the “Spiritual Capital of Iran”. This city was also chosen as “The Capital of Islamic Culture.”
The term “Mashhad” means the place of martyrdom. Shia muslims believe that after the murder of Ali ibn Musa at the hands of al-Ma’mun- the Abbasid caliph- in 844, the eights Imam’s body was buried in the tomb in Sanabad. Since then, “Sanabad Noghan” called “Mash’had al-Reza”. The city was expanded in Shah Tahmasb II in Safavid Dynasty and the people of Tus were moved to “Mash’had” since then.
According to the archeologists and the artifacts which were discovered near Kashaf River, Khorasan has a history of 800,000 years! This land was occupied in the sixth century BC by the Achaemenid dynasty. After the extinction of the Achaemenids by Alexander, Seleucid dynasty started to rule in Iran and Khorasan. Khorasan was Iran was one of four provinces of Iran at the time of the Parthian and Sassanian.
In the Islamic period, Abbasid, Tahidir, Safarid, Samanid, Ghaznavid, Seljuks, Khwarazmian dynasties ruled in Khorasan. After the barbaric attacks of Mongolians on Iran, different tribes and dynasties such as; Uzbeks, Timurid, Safavid, Afghans, Afsharid and Qajar ruled over this land.
Mashhad’s climate is a local steppe climate. During the year there is little rainfall. The city only sees about 250 millimeters (9.8 inches) of precipitation per year, some of which occasionally falls in the form of snow. Mashhad also has wetter and drier periods with the bulk of the annual precipitation falling between the months of December and May. Summers are typically hot and dry, with high temperatures sometimes exceeding 35 °C (95 °F). Winters are typically cool to cold and somewhat damper, with overnight lows routinely dropping below freezing. Mashhad enjoys on average just above 2900 hours of sunshine per year.
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