Beyond the national park's eastern edge, 5.3km north of the highway, ridge-backed Espakho is a small, Khorasani village retaining several traditional-style mud houses, some lovely old trees and – most famously – a sturdy former fire temple that locals misleadingly name kelisa (church). With walls 2m thick and pierced by keyhole-shaped openings, it's said to be the last remaining Sassanid-era monument still standing in Northeastern Iran.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Iran attractions

1. Robat Qarehbil

4.68 MILES

Close to the Golestan National Park's eastern tip, this apparently uninteresting highway-strip hamlet hides a small, atmospherically ruinous Safavid-era…