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. Its population was 2,749,374 at the 2011 census
and its built-up area was home to 2,782,976 inhabitants including Mashhad Taman
and Torqabeh cities. 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 visit the Imam Reza shrine and pay their tributes to Imam Reza. The
Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid is also buried within the shrine. Mashhad has
experienced the rise and fall of many governments over the course of history.
Many Arab, Turkish, and especially Mongolian and Afghan tribes have brought
great changes in the language, ethnicity and culture of the people each in
their own time. Surprisingly, Mashhad enjoyed relative prosperity in its
economy in the Mongol period. Mashhad is mistakenly known as the city of
Ferdowsi, the Iranian poet of Shahnameh, which is considered to be the national
epic of Iran.
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