⦁ own over 1000 years old
⦁ situated above 1000m in Gilan Province
⦁ north west of Tehran near Rasht
⦁ picturesque houses stacked on top of each other
⦁ popular tourist retreat from Tehran
⦁ famous for its traditional bread
⦁ delightfully located in a wooded valley. Population around 2,000 inhabitants
Though Masuleh is one of Iran’s most valued architectural treasures it is also one of its humblest.Here it is not the sweeping vision of a master architect or the glory of a great king that tourists flock to appreciate, but the simplicity of a traditional village in a spectacular location untouched by the modern age. Masuleh is located about a one and a half hour drive away from the city of Rasht, less than an hour away from Fuman, in the foothills of Mount Talesh. In fact, the village literally grips the mountainside, hanging on as if it were in danger of plunging into the river at its foot. The architectural style that makes Masuleh special can be seen elsewhere in Iran but not so perfectly preserved. In order to accommodate houses, a bazaar, 18 mosques and all the facilities of a village of just under 2,000 inhabitants, the roofs of many buildings double up as the streets of the level above. The height difference between the lowest and the highest points of this stepped village is about 100 metres. The car park at river level is as far up as motor vehicles can go – this being the only village in Iran in which automobiles are completely banned. Much is being done in Masuleh to maintain buildings in the old ways. Every year walls get a fresh coating of mud, giving the whole village an organic feel – as if the buildings have grown out of the earth of the streets.
At the heart of the town is the bazaar which is a lively nest of alleys and stairways with cubby-hole shops selling a wide variety of handicrafts, freshly-baked sweets, a worrying preponderance of knives and all weaves and colors of silk scarves. One level above the bazaar are a number of restaurants and teahouses where you can lunch on kabab followed by tea and gheliyoon .
Stray up further and your chances increase of having a grumpy local chide you for not sticking to the “tourist areas”. Not everybody here is glad of the attention that their picturesque little town brings. However, most of Masuleh’s inhabitants welcome the interest in their village and some even open their homes to guests for meals or overnight stays.
Getting to Masuleh
Masuleh is about 90 minutes from Rasht or 45 minutes from Fuman by savari (shared taxi).
Both Rasht and Fuman can be reached by bus from Tehran. The journey from Rasht to Tehran via Qazvin takes about six hours. There are also buses to Tabriz and Hamadan, which take around nine hours.
Iran Air has daily flights to Tehran and some flights to Mashhad.
Neishabur (Nishapur; Nayshaboor)
A scenic location which is about one and a half hours away from Mashhad, Neishabur is known for its distinct turquoise. In fact it is just the place to pick up bejeweled souvenirs in silver. The area is an expanse of greenery and many families camp over night in the gardens here.
Neishabur is a former capital of Khorasan and the birthplace of Omar Khayyam, the author of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The tomb of the poet is a modernist 1970s structure in a garden setting called Bagh-e Mahrugh.
Neishabur also houses the relics of Imam Reza (A.S), the eighth Imam of the Shia Isna Asheris (Twelver Shias).
The footprints of the Holy Imam are ingrained in a stone and many pilgrims flock here to see these imprints as well as fetch water from a stream that surged forth from this predominantly dry area when the Imam scratched the surface of the ground to get water for ablutions before prayer.
Another beautiful and serene location in Neishabur is the Shrine complex of Imamzadeh Esmail and Imamzadeh Mahrukh, a 16th century domed mausoleum with detailed tile work.
Neishabur is connected with Mashhad by a direct motorway through the desert scenery.
Access – Getting To Neishabur
Mashhad is well connected by road, rail and air to major cities across the globe and within Iran.
International flights connect Mashhad International Airport with Istanbul, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Beirut, Jeddah, Doha, Dushanbe and Kabul. There are 2-3 flights everyday to Mashhad from the Iranian cities of Isfahan, Shiraz and Tehran. Kish Air offers a two hour flight to Mashhad from Kish Island.
Gonabad is 260 km from Mashhad while Tehran is 900 km. Buses from other important cities coming in to Mashhad travel by night. There are no international buses arriving at the city.
3 trains offering different fares and facilities travel from Tehran to Mashhad everyday. The duration of the journey by train from Tehran to Mashhad is 10-14 hours. There is one daily train from Sarakhs and other trains from Turkmenistan, Ashgabat and Merv.