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By Sander van Hulsenbeek, SYI Facebook Group Member
Some notes on visiting the Haram-e-Razavi in Mashad.
For many visitors to Iran, Mashad is quite out of the way. A shame because a visit of the Imam Reza Shrine Complex may wel be one of the highlights of your Iran tour!
We took the 20:00 Fadak train from Tehran (not cheap but well worth it) which arrives in Mashad at a comfortable 08:00 in the morning. Having slept extremely well, consider that you save a night in a hotel and that you get an ample dinner on the train!
I advice to arrive on a Friday, yes!. Perhaps not during Ramadan or an important remembrance day , but the complex is so vast that even on a Friday the crowds of followers disperse easily. Also: read on.
As advised in Lonely Planet approach to the main entrance from Imam Reza Boulevard to the vast Jame’ Razavi Courtyard.There is a welcoming stand, with a parasol, for foreign visitors. The guards will telephone for a guide, who you can talk to and you will be asked friendly to wait till the guide arrives. Here is a map: https://en.mashhad.ir/portal_co…/826353-Holy-shrine-Map.html
He, or she, will help men and women to find their own entrance and women will be handed a lightweight flowery chador. Dress lightly under it! Men are expected to be dressed demurely: rather no bare arms, legs or feet.
Now here it is: Smartphone’s are allowed and used by everyone for photography everywhere. We took hundreds of pictures. Be modest however. Big camera left at the Hotel: I saw none in the complex.
You can discuss with your guide what your plans are and how much time you have. The whole visit will included a 45 minutes or so at the visitors center, with a welcoming and explanatory movie, a talk with one of the mullahs and a drink, plus a goody bag with a beautiful brochure of the Haram. Plan with your guide when to go during your visit.
The museums in the Kouthar Courtyard take more than an hour to walk around. Perhaps for the next morning? Free entry-tickets from you guide.
In your (first) tour you will visit at least the Jame’ Razavi, Qods, Ghadeer, Jomhoori Islami and the Ingilab Courtyard. The Goharshad Mosque and the Holy Burial Chamber are off limits (but read on) for non muslims. Perhaps you will also visit the vast underground mirrored prayer halls: wonderful ceilings.
Highlight of our two days in Mashad was our Friday evening visit to the Haram-e-Razavi at sunset and the beautifull ‘Blue Hour’ thereafter. We were let in without guide (the chador was enough to be let through). The whole complex felt festive at this important evening of the week
We felt very welcome, and I (male) was, when I tried to get a glance inside, immediately invited into the Goharshad Mosque, Sit on the carpet, looked around at will. Taking photo’s, talking English. The Courtyard was from a fairy-tale with coloured lights and white pigeons sitting on the wires. The prayer hour in the Jomhoori Islami Courtyard proved a humbling experience to witness for this secular tourist 🙂.
In all: a Haram-e-Razavi visit is recommended for anyone going to Iran!
Read more in See You in Iran facebook group