Mashhad (مشهد) is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia world. It is located 850 kilometers (500 miles) east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province (استان خراسان رضوی) close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its population was 2,749,374 at 2011 census.
Now Mashhad is notably known as the resting place of the Imam Reza (امام رضا)(Ali ibn Musa al-Rida). A shrine was later built there to commemorate the Imam, which in turn gave rise to increasing demographic development.
The city is located at 36.20º latitude and 59.35º east longitude, in the valley of the Kashaf River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood (بینالود) and Hezar-masjed (هزارمسجد). The city benefits from the proximity of the mountains, having very cold winters, pleasant springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. It is only about 250 km (156 miles) from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
The city is the administrative centre of Mashhad County (or the shahrestan of Mashhad) as well as the somewhat smaller district (bakhsh) of Mashhad. The city itself, excluding parts of the surrounding bakhsh and shahrestan, is divided into 13 smaller administrative units, with a total population of almost 2,5 million.
Mashhad consists mainly of people of Iranian descent. There are also over 20 million pilgrims who visit the city every year.