Top ChoiceIslamic Site in Mashhad

Haram-e Razavi

Imam Reza’s Holy Shrine is enveloped in a vast 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...

Top ChoiceMonument in Gonbad-e Kavus

Mil-e Gonbad

A Unesco World Heritage site since 2012, this 53m tower in Gonbad's centre looks like a buttressed-brick spaceship with the cross-section of a 10-pointed star. Built in 1006, it's so remarkably well preserved...

Islamic Shrine in Mashhad

Holy Shrine

Amid tearful prayer and meditation, the climax to any Mashhad pilgrimage is touching and kissing the zarih (gold-latticed cage), which covers Imam Reza’s tomb in the Haram's central shrine beneath the iconic...

Islamic Site in Mashhad

Imam Khomeini Ravagh

All a-dazzle with intricate, mirror-faceted tiling, this former courtyard is now enclosed and entirely covered by a sparkling ceiling held in place by large, well-spaced columns that spread up and out like...

Village in Esfarayen

Roein

Backed by a rocky crag, Roein's old section is a stepped village of high, porch-fronted traditional homes, looking rather like a less verdant version of Masuleh, though several parts of town have been marred by...

Village in Sabzevar

Zafaraniyeh

Little-visited Zafaraniyeh village has a Safavid-era brick caravanserai in a state of photogenic part-collapse, but more importantly maintains a large percentage of the less dramatic ancillary mud-domed buildings...

Islamic Shrine in Turkmensahra

Khalid Nibi Shrine

Dramatically perched above a sea of badlands sit three small mausoleums. The most important commemorates a certain Khalid Nibi; although he was apparently a 5th-century Nestorian Christian, the site now attracts...

Monument in Kordkuy

Mil-e-Radkan Qarbi

Sitting upon an astoundingly lonely knoll with wistful views over the cliff-edged valley, this circular, conical-topped tower was built in 1020 for a military commander of Tabarestan's ruling Bavend dynasty....

Architecture in Shahrud

Bezayit Bastami Complex

At the heart of ancient Bastam, now a village-suburb of Shahrud (around 7km from centre), is a collection of mostly 13th-century historical buildings. The main group is set around the relatively simple grave of...

Monument in Radkan

Radkan Tower

This conically spired 25m brick tower has baffled visitors for centuries. Was it a tomb? A coronation spot? According to Iranian archaeo-astronomer Manoochehr Arian (www.jamejamshid.com), it was actually a highly...

Mausoleum in Mashhad

Boq’eh-ye Khajeh Rabi

This beautifully proportioned, blue-domed mausoleum commemorates an apostle of the prophet Mohammad who later exiled himself to Khorasan to avoid tensions between the prophet's then-feuding followers. Paying...

Gardens in Damghan

Cheshmeh Ali

Very popular as a picnic place in summer, Cheshmeh Ali's centrepiece is a pair of Qajar-era pavilions facing each other across a reflecting pool. It's almost worth the savari fare for the beauty of the 30km drive...

Fortress in Esfarayen

Belqays

With nearly 30 towers and a partial restoration of the imposing 11m-high north wall, Belqays citadel is one of Iran's most visually impressive mud fortresses – at least, when viewed from certain directions. Once...

Bazaar in Semnan

Semnan Bazaar

Semnan's cross-shaped covered-bazaar marks the old heart of the city. While far less extensive than the great bazaars of Kerman or Tabriz, there is plenty of 19th-century vaulting and the north-south section...

Museum in Mashhad

Central Museum

This eclectic museum kicks off with chunks of now-superseded shrine decor interspersed with contemporary sporting medals presented by pious athletes, while the basement stamp collection includes a 1983...

Tower in Kalat

Khorshid Palace

Nader Shah’s 'Khorshid Palace' isn't really a palace at all but a distinctively fluted, circular tomb-tower, on an octagonal base set in manicured lawns. (The name Khorshid (literally ‘sun’) refers to one of...

Hot Springs in Semnan Province

Badab-e Surt

Badab-e Surt is a series of terraced travertine (limestone) pools – smaller than those at Turkey's Pamukkale, but more colourful and serenely isolated within a mountain-ringed valley, 23km east of the...

Village in Semnan Province

Dehnamak Village

Once the fourth stop on the ancient Rey–Khorasan caravan route, Dehnamak is most interesting for its recently restored Safavid-era caravanserai, now a hotel and restaurant. The nearby village also has a...

Mausoleum in Neishabur

Attar Tomb

Small but lavishly tiled, the octagonal tomb tower of Sufi poet Sheikh Attar (1145–1220) sits in a very pretty garden that's a popular destination for horse-and-carriage rides from Omar Khayyam's tomb complex....

Mausoleum in Damghan

Imamzadeh Jafar

Imamzadeh Jafar is a splendid, ancient pale-brick building with round side-towers, arched false-windows and a five-level dome culminating in a brick cone. It looks like a North African castle right off a movie...