Spiritual Heart of Iran, City of Imam Reza
Mashhad is considered the Spiritual Heart of Iran, as it is the city where the shrine of the eighth Shia Imam, Reza (PBUH) is located. The life of this Shia Imam, who was one of the top scientists and jurists of his time, was cut short when Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma’mun gave him poisoned grapes.
Imam Reza (PBUH) was laid to rest in Mashhad, which literally means place of martyrdom, and a magnificent mausoleum was built in his honor to which millions of pilgrims from all over the world flock every year. Those who make this journey are given the honorary title of Mashhadi.
Over the centuries, the Razavi Shrine has expanded to include a school in which some of the finest religious scholars have pursued juristical endeavors. Not surprisingly, the Shrine has a 600-year-old library, one of the oldest libraries of the Middle East, which houses thousands of rare manuscripts.
Mashhad is also the hometown of some of the most prominent literary figures and artists such as poet Mehdi Akhavan-Saales and traditional singer and composer Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, who has been nicknamed the ‘Nightingale of Persian Music.’
The tomb of epic Persian poet Ferdowsi, whose magnum opus Shahnameh (Book of Kings) recounts Iran’s mythical and, in some parts, historical past and who is credited for reviving the Persian language, is situated a few kilometers outside of Mashhad.