The city of Mashad is situated 909 km. from Tehran in a plain between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and Hezar Masjed. Mashad enjoys a temperate, mountainous climate.
In the year 202 AH, after the martyrdom of Imam Reza (AS) in a place around Toos called Sanabad which came to be known as Mashad-e-Reza (Place of Martyrdom) the main nucleus of todays or the present Mashad came into existance. Sultan Mahmood Qaznavi built a mausoleum on the shrine. Due to the destruction of the city of Toos in the 7th century AH, people flocked to the city of Mashad. At first, the area of Toos was inhabited by non-Aryans and some parts of it was conquered by the Arabs during the reign of the Caliph Osman.
It was annexed to the Islamic territory in the time of Caliph Omar. The city of Toos was one of the first to be plundered and destroyed like the other cities of Khorassan by the Mongols. The city of Toos due to its delicate and sensitive position was subject to upheavals during the Teymourian and Ilkhanan period. Being passed through, hand to hand between different governments, people were massacred.
Ultimately in the year 807 AH, Shahrokh, the son of Amir Teymour ascended the throne and since then Toos has developed and thrived, and from the second half of the 9th century AH, it came to stand as a suburb of Mashad. Ruins of the old city of Toos have come to remain. But the present day Toos has guarded its importance due to the fact that the tomb of the great Iranian poet Ferdowsi is located there.
However, today Mashad has a unbreakable link with the history of ancient Toos and annually hosts thousands of pilgrims and visitors and is one of the focal points of pilgrims for the Shiite.
Apart from Imam Reza shrine, there are a number of large parks, the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Nishapur, the tomb of Nader Shah and Kooh Sangi park. The Koohestan Park-e-Shadi Complex includes a zoo, where many wild animals are kept and which attracts many visitors to Mashhad. It is also home to the Mashhad Airbase (formerly Imam Reza airbase), jointly a military installation housing Mirage aircraft, and a civilian international airport.
Some points of interest lie outside the city: the tomb of Khajeh Morad, along the road to Tehran; the tomb of Khajeh Rabi' located 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the city where there are some inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi; and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt, a distance of 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Mashhad along the road to Neishabur. (The three were all disciples of Imam Reza).
Among the other sights are the tomb of the poet Ferdowsi in Tus, 24 kilometres (15 miles) distance, and the summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlamad, Zoshk, and Shandiz.
The Shah Public Bath, built during the Safavid era in 1648, is an outstanding example of the architecture of that period. It was recently restored, and is to be turned into a museum.