1-Mashhad – Iran’s Holiest City
Mashhad is an important place of pilgrimage for Shia Moslems from all over the world, and historically a major center of population of what was once Iran’s most influential province under the entity of the Greater Khorasan, the cradle of the Persian language and civilization and the homeland of many great Iranian poets, writers and scholars. The main highlights include:
Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (A) showcases 800 years of religious-artistic creation evoking a sensational spiritual atmosphere containing great works of art by renowned artists and calligraphers, and the masterpiece of early 15th century Gowhar Shad mosque.
Tomb of Omar Khayyam philosophy, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy were among the subjects mastered by this brilliant man, a celebrated poet who became popular in the west after the free translation of Rubaiyat (Quatrains) by Edward FitzGerald.
Tomb of Ferdowsi the most highly celebrated epic poet of Persia (940-1020) who completed his ‘Book of Kings’ regarded as a literary work of genius that reflects Iran's cultural values, its ancient religions, and its profound sense of nationhood.
Tomb of Attar a prolific figure of classical Persian literature, a famous mystic poet and a source of inspiration of Rumi and many other poets, and the creator of one of the great masterpieces of Persian literature, Mantegh at-Tayr, or Conference of the Birds.
2-Qom – The Stronghold of Shia
Qom has been in constant occupation since the 5th millennium BC with its present status going back to the beginning of the Safavid rule when Qom became an important center of Shia theology, and it is currently Iran’s second major pilgrimage site being the burial place of Hazrat Masoumeh (A). The main highlights include:
Holy Shrine of Hazrat Masoumeh (A) Iran’s second holiest site after that of her brother’s, Imam Reza (A), a magnificent shrine dominating the skyline of Qom built by the Safavids and the later Qajars who covered the dome with gold-plated tiles.