Iran's spiritual capital, Mashhad, offers recreational experience to pilgrims too
Iran's northeastern city of Mashhad is well known as the spiritual capital of Iran since it hosts the shrine of a holy figure in Shia Islam; Imam Reza.
Every year, some 30 million pilgrims from across the Muslim world travel to Mashhad to visit the holy shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam.
But a few miles away from the shrine, there's a whole new world for tourists who would also like to enjoy natural resorts after a spiritual journey.
Kouh-Sangi is one of a myriad of attractions in Mashhad. Natural resorts such as Shandiz and Chalidarreh Valley and recreational centers such as Water Waves Land and Eram Amusement Park are among the must-see places in Mashhad. The city is also home to 10,000 historical sites.
Only 1500 of those sites have so far been registered and developed for tourists. Mashhad is also a hotspot for health tourism in the region.
Only in 2021, over 24,000 health tourists visited Mashhad, mainly from Iraq and Oman, spending roughly 48 million dollars in the city.
Authorities in Mashhad say the potentials are countless, but so are the challenges. To foreign visitors, Mashhad is still a religious only city, and many are not aware of its recreational capacities.
Due to the large number of visitors throughout the year, Mashhad has one of the best-equipped public transport systems in the country.
It has a growing subway network and bus rapid transit system beside other transportation services, making it easy to access the desired tourist destinations in the city.
Known as the spiritual capital of Iran, Mashhad seems to offer more than a spiritual experience to visitors.
With its spectacular natural resorts and growing number of recreational centers, Mashhad municipality plans to turn it into a tourist hub in the region.