Khorasan is a province in northeastern Iran but historically referred to a much larger area east and north-east of the Persian Empire. Regarding the etymology aspect, the name Khorasan is Persian and means “where the sun arrives from.” The name was given to the eastern province of Persia during the Sassanid Empire. It is good to know that Khorasan was the largest province of Iran until it was divided into three provinces in September 2004, Northern, Southern, and Razavi Khorasan.
Historically speaking, Khorasan was occupied by the Arabs in the mid-7th cent., and Abu Muslim began (8th cent.) his campaign against the Umayyads there. The province contributed to the power of the early Abbasid caliphs. Khorasan was devastated by the Oghuz Turks in 1153 and 1157 and by the Mongols from 1220 to 1222. Timur invaded in 1383. An earthquake devastated Khorasan in 1997.
The Holy Land of Imam Reza
The province is the fourth largest province of Iran now. It is located in the northeast of the country, bordering Turkmenistan on the north and Afghanistan on the east. The important heights of this province include Mount Kappeh Dagh, Mount Ala Dagh, and Mount Binalud. These peaks have contributed to a considerable change of temperature all over the province. The largest river is called Atrak. Others rivers such as the Kashaf, Renglanlu, Darungar, Jam, and Kalshur, make water resources of the region. This province has a dry and semi-dry climate.
Based on the statistics from 1996, this province has a population of about 4,800,000, and half the people live in the province capital, the Holy city of Mashhad. Other important cities of the province include Ghuchan, Dargaz, Kalat, Chenaran, Neyshabur, Sabzevar, Sarakhs, Fariman, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Kashmar, Khalil Abad, Torbat-e Jam, Taybad, Khaf, Rashtkhar, Gonabad, Ferdos, Bardeskan, Meh, and Lat. This province plays an important role in the production of farming yield. Saffron is the most important one which followed by cereal and various flowers.
Khorasan-e Razavi can provide visitors with various facilities such as hotels, an international airport, standard highways, express train services, and numerous shopping centers. The souvenirs of this province include saffron, perfume, candy, turquoise or opal rings, carved stones, silk clothing, etc.
Astan-e Ghods-e Razavi Compound
After the martyrdom of Imam Reza in the 8th century CE, his followers buried him in the middle of a large garden and many beautiful buildings were later constructed in the area. Today it has become a huge complex with unique architectural designs. It consists of many parts, namely Goharshad Mosque, Parizad Mosque, Evan-e Tala (Gold Porch), the Astan-e Ghods-e Razavi Museum, Atigh Courtyard, Azadi Courtyard, Jomhuri courtyard, etc.
Naderi Garden Museum
The complex of Naderi Garden Museum including the Nader Shah Afshar Tomb (1100-1160 A.H), known as the Napoleon of East, has been placed along with a museum, inside the so-called Naderi Garden in the center of Mashhad City. Houshang Seyhoun has created a unique, novel, and spectacular artwork by putting together the historic symbols in a coherent structure. This complex is one of the finest samples of the modern architecture of Iran which is the main tourism and historic place of Mashhad after Imam Reza Holy Shrine.
Turquoise of Neyshabur
The precious mines of this exquisite stone are located northwest of Neyshabur at the foothills of the Binalud Mountains. In many workshops of Neyshabur, turquoise is cut into different forms and is used for making rings, necklaces, and other kinds of ornaments.
Kalat Palace (The Sun Palace)
Kalat Palace known also as the Sun Palace, one of the most beautiful unfinished tower tomb, primarily was a mausoleum related to the Ilkhanid dynasty. The current building of this palace has been constructed on the remains of the old building in the Afsharid era. This palace among a large garden with the architecture method of Persian gardens has been built on three floors including two first floors with a combination of Iranian and Indian architecture.
The building is the burial place of one of the most famous historical character of contemporary art of Iran, Mohammad Ghaffari is known as Kamal al-Molk, the Iranian painter (Kashan 1224- Neyshabur 1319) that is located in the vicinity of Attar tomb, the Iranian famous poet and mystic, in the Attar garden.
Sarakhs Caravanserai (or Robat-e Sharaf), known as the Museum of Brickwork in Iran, is located in the city of Sarakhs, Razavi Khorasan Province. This gorgeous construction is a relic of the glorious Seljuq era (1037-1153). Caravanserais were places for travelers to stay when the routes were very long. The building of Sarakhs Caravanserai has a rectangular plan which consists of two main sections. Each section has a four-Iwan (four-porch) courtyard.
Saffron, the Red Gold
It is an agricultural product that needs little water and can be harvested for seven to ten years after it is planted. It is usually planted in the southern parts of Khorasan-e Razavi. The province ranks first in Iran by producing about 172 tons per year.
Robat-e Sharaf in the town of Sarakhs, Robat-e Neyshabur, Fariman caravanserai, Robat-e Fariman, Robat-e Virani, the tomb of Shaykh Ahmad-e Jam, the tomb of Ghotb od-Din Heydar, the tomb of Sheikh Zeyn- od- Din Abu Bakr-e Taybadi, the tomb of Pir-e Palanduz, the tomb of Nader Shah Afshar, the tomb of Shaykh Loghman-e Sarakhsi and the tower of Akhang.
Mausoleum of Ferdowsi, who was an epic poet of the 10th century CE, is located in the village of Tus. Attar, Khayyam, and Kamal ol-Molk are also buried in the town of Neyshabur. Molla Hadi Sabzevari and Seyed Hasan Modarres are buried in Kashmar and Colonel Persian in Mashhad. Besides this, another important cultural attraction is Colonel Pesyan Mausoleum in Mashhad.
Mausoleum of Ferdowsi, Torghabeh summer region (Mashhad), Mashhad, Shandiz (Mashhad), Akhmlu (Mashhad), Khar and Drud villages (Neyshabur), Baghestan Alisa village (Ferdowsi), Dareh Shamkhal (Ghuchan), Kuhsorkh Promenade (Kashmar), La’in Lakat summer district, Shahr-e Kohneh hot Water spring (Ghuchan), Torogh dam lake (Mashhad), Bazangan lake (Sarakhs), Band Naderi (Lakat), Vakil Abad Park (Mashhad), Tondureh national Park (Darreh Gaz), Shir Ahmad Wildlife shelter (Sabzevar), etc.