Haram-e Razavi

sights / Religious

Haram-e Razavi information

Mashhad , Iran
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Imam Reza’s Holy Shrine is enveloped in a series of sacred precincts collectively known as the Haram-e Razavi, or Haram for short. This magical city-within-a-city sprouts dazzling clusters of domes and minarets in blue and pure gold behind vast fountain-cooled courtyards and magnificent arched arcades. It’s one of the marvels of the Islamic world, and its moods and glories should be fully savoured more than once at varying times of day. Compare the orderly overload of dusk prayer-time to the fairy-tale calm of a floodlit nocturnal wander.

No bags or cameras are allowed within the complex, although curiously enough snapping photos with mobile phones is perfectly acceptable. There are left-luggage offices near most entrances. Men and women enter through different carpet-draped portals and are politely frisked. Women must wear a chador: it’s sometimes possible to borrow one from your hotel. Dress for either sex should be conservative and clean.

Non-Muslims are allowed in most of the Haram’s outer courtyards. They are not allowed inside the complex’s two holiest buildings, the Holy Shrine and the Gohar Shad Mosque. Technically, non-Muslims are also excluded from the magnificent Enqelab and Azadi courtyards, but you can peep in through relevant gateways. At quieter times, those who act suitably (demure, respectful and soaking up the spiritual rather than the aesthetic) are rarely challenged and might wander through ‘by mistake’. However, be particularly careful not to upset Muslim sensibilities: remember, it’s a privilege for non-Muslims to be allowed to visit the Haram complex at all.