Mashhad (Persian: مشهد) is the second most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the north east of the country close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its population was 2,772,287 at the 2011 population census. It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv in the East.
Mashhad is the hometown of some of the most significant Iranian literary figures and artists such as Mehdi Akhavan-Sales, the famous contemporary poet and Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, the traditional Iranian singer and composer. Mashhad is also known as the city of Ferdowsi, the Iranian poet of Shahnameh, which is considered to be the national epic of Iran. Ferdowsi and Akhavan Sales are both buried in Tus, an ancient city that is considered to be the main origin of the current city of Mashhad. The city is however most well known and respected for housing the tomb of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam. Every year millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Reza shrine and pay their tributes to Imam Reza.
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