Persepolis, derived from a Greek word, meaning “the Persian city” or “the City of the Persians” is the gem of Achaemenid era. This is an ensemble in the fields of architecture, urban planning, construction technology, and art. Ranking among the archaeological sites which have no equivalent, it bears unique witness to a most ancient civilization. Located 60km northeast of the city of Shiraz in Fars Province, Persepolis was registered as World Heritage in 1979.
Discover here other UNESCO World Heritage sites in Iran
The great city of Persepolis was built in terraces up from the river Pulwar to rise on a larger terrace of over 125,000 square feet, partly cut out of the Mountain Kuh-e Rahmet (“the Mountain of Mercy”). André Godard, the French archaeologist excavated Persepolis for the first time in the early 1930s. He believed that it was Cyrus the Great who chose the site of Persepolis. However, it was Darius I who built the terrace and the palaces.
Darius I ordered the construction of the Apadana and the Council Hall (Tripylon or the “Triple Gate”). He also built the main imperial Treasury and its surroundings. These were completed during the reign of his son, Xerxes I. Further construction of the buildings, whose main material was grey limestone, continued until the downfall of the Achaemenid Empire. One important feature about Persepolis complex was its adequate and practical sewage which was dug underground through the rock. Besides, a water storage tank at the mountain helped inhabitants to store water for bathing and drinking purposes.
Persepolis The Glory of Ancient Iran
The stairs, which are guarded by stone soldiers, are decorated by an exceptionally finely crafted frieze in three panels. Each panel is divided into several tiers depicting the reception of various visitors to Persepolis and these can be read, by those with the expertise, almost like a history text book. As such, this is one sight that really repays the engagement of a tour guide.
The bronze trumpets that once heralded the arrival of important foreign delegations (a fragment of which is on display in the museum) may now be silent, but it is still possible to capture the sense of awe on approaching the colossal main gateway. Built during the reign of Xerxes I, who called it “Gate of All Nations”.
The gateway bears a cuneiform inscription in Old Persian, Neo-Babylonian and Elamite languages declaring, among other things, that Xerxes is responsible for the construction of this and many beautiful wonders in Persia. Centuries of graffitists have also left their mark, including explorer Henry Morton Stanley.
Constructed on a stone terrace by Xerxes I, the Apadana Palace lies largely in ruins. Experts believe that this is where the king and the splendour accompanying received foreign delegations. It’s the exquisite reliefs of the Apadana Staircase on the eastern wall, however, that are the star attraction.
Private Palaces (Tachara and Hadish)
The palaces in the southwestern corner of the site are believed to have been constructed during the reigns of Darius and Xerxes. The Tachara is easily the most striking, with many of its monolithic doorjambs still standing and covered in bas-reliefs and cuneiform inscriptions. The stairs on the southern side bear highly skilled reliefs and are some of the most photogenic. The palace opens onto a royal courtyard flanked by two palaces.
To the east is the Hadish, a palace completed by Xerxes and reached via another monumental staircase. Some scholars speculate that its wooden columns on stone bases might have served as kindling for Alexander’s great fire – especially as it had been Xerxes who had put Athens to the torch. Persepolis The G
Palace of 100 Columns
With an extravagant hall measuring almost 70 sq metres and supported by 100 stone columns, this palace formed one of two principal reception areas in Persepolis. Built during the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes I, some believe it was used to receive the military elite upon whom the empire’s security rested.
Why visiting Persepolis is important?
In its heyday, Persepolis was one of four key cities at the heart of an empire that spread from the Indus River to Ethiopia. Even though Alexander set this magnificent and glorious city on fire, the ruins are still so beautiful which can pin down any visitor for hours.
Although you might think that seeing all of this glory and beauty is enough for you, Persepolis has many financial, historical, political aspects to know concerning its paintings and its architecture. Even Iranians themselves need to ask a tour leader to decode designs and paintings on the walls.
Iranian, French, German and English archaeologists and historians have worked on different aspects of this monument. They have tried to discover all the realities in this palace and that’s why we recommend you hire tour leader. They do explain all of these graces and delicacies while you are enjoying your visit. Leaving Iran without knowing the philosophy of soldiers’ cloths or the flowers carved on the wall is a great regret.
Read here more about tourist attractions in Shiraz Persepolis The Glory of Ancient Iran