Welcome to Turkmensahra
The majority of Iran's Turkmen people live on the Turkmensahra steppe, where a magnificent tower at Gonbad-e Kavus is the only significant monument still standing from the region's once-vibrant Tabarestan civilisation, obliterated by Genghis Khan’s hordes in the 13th century. Earlier invasions had been deterred by Iran's equivalent to China's Great Wall, nicknamed the Sadd-e Eskander (today seen as minor undulations crossing flat fields with a few hilly remnants of forts). At the wall's eastern end the steppe abruptly turns green and mountainous with the ancient Hyrcanian forests of the Golestan National Park.
It's a beautiful area to drive through en route to Mashhad, and also offers hiking, trekking, wildlife-watching and horse-riding opportunities.