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Mashhad, the capital and largest city of Khorasan-e Razavi province in the mountainous region of northeastern Iran, is considered to be Iran's holiest city. Mashhad, which literally means “place of martyrdom,” has a population of more than 2.5 million and is the second largest city in the country. Located about 530 miles (1 mile = 1.609 kilometers) northeast of Tehran, Mashhad is home to many tourist attractions; but most important, it is the location of the tomb of Imam Reza, the eighth imam (head spiritual leader) of Shi'a Islam, who was martyred in 818 CE.

Following the 13th-century Mongol invasions, Mashhad underwent a period of growth and development. The Mongol raids had left many cities in the Greater Khorasan area devastated but had left Mashhad relatively ...

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