Persepolis

 

DSC01060(Panoramic view of Persepolis)

Persepolis is one of the oldest and most famous historical sites that stands in Iran and is definitely one of the most impressive.

 During the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) over 2000 years ago, Persepolis was the capital city of the Persian Empire. In Persian, Persepolis is called “Takhte Jamsheed” (the throne of Jamsheed) and is literally translated to “city of Persians.” The historically famous ancient ruins display Achaemenid style of architecture. It is believed that Cyrus the Great (“Koorosh” in Persian) chose the site for the city, but it was Darius (“Daryoosh”) who was responsible for building the palaces.

Darius ordered the construction of the Apadana Palace and the council hall (the Tripylon) and its surroundings. It was during the reign of Darius’s son Xerxes the Great (“Khashayar”) that the buildings were completed. The buildings at Persepolis include mainly military headquarters, treasuries, and reception halls.

The city of Persepolis was destroyed by Alexander the Great after he invaded Persia in 330 BC in revenge for the Persian king Xerxes destroying the Greek city of Athens.

If you want to visit Persepolis, you have to do a day trip and visit Pasargad and Naghshe Rostam (post to come) all in one day. Persepolis is also located about 2.5 hours away from Shiraz and only about 43 km from Pasargad.

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The “Persepolitan” stairway is a grand staircase that leads up to the main palace. The staircase is double sided and built symmetrically on the western side of the Great Wall.

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“The Gate of all Nations” consisted of a great hall with its entrance on the western wall. A pair of bulls with the heads of bearded men, Lamassus, stand by the western threshold. Another pair, with wings and a Persian head (Gopat-Shah), stands by the eastern entrance, to reflect the Empire’s power.

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Achaemenid griffin at Persepolis.

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 Engravings of people bringing gifts for the king.

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 Engravings at Apanada hall depicting Persian soldiers wearing the rectangular hats and Median soldiers wearing the circular hats. Medians, or Medes, were ancient Iranian people who lived in North-west Iran who spoke the Median language.

DSC01099 DSC01107Persian and Median noblemen in friendly conversation, bringing gifts for the king.

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DSC01110An engraving on the Bas-relief of Persepolis on the grand staircase depicting the Zoroastrian tradition of Nowruz (new year): a bull (symbolizing the moon), fighting a lion (symbolizing the sun) which represents the beginning of Spring.DSC01081About a 15 minute hike up into the mountains from Persepolis’s main palace ruins lies the tombs of the kings of Persia during the time of the Achaemenid. 2 or 3 of these tombs within the mountain exist, and it is believed that kings such as Xerxes and Darius are buried within these mountains. I took the panoramic views of Persepolis from the top of the mountain.

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One of the most impressive features of Persepolis are the tall columns that have stood the test of time and war. One would wonder what sort of technology existed in 500 BC that allowed for the creation of these gigantic stone columns. 15 of the pillars are still intact today. You can tell how tall the pillars are by comparing them to the people at the bottom of the photo.

Pasargad (Tomb of Cyrus the Great)

Pasargad was the capital city of the Archaemenid Empire built by the Emperor Cyrus the Great (~559 BC), and is also the location of Cyrus’s tomb which is a very significant archaeological landmark in Iran. Pasargad is close to the ancient landmark of Persepolis (43 km away) and also naghshe Rostam (post of both to come). We visited all three places in one day since they are about a 2.5 hour drive from Shiraz; it was a whole day of events!

The tomb of Cyrus the Great is the most important landmark in the ancient city of Pasargad. Today it is guarded by at least 5 on-site guards, a glass fence, and security cameras. The entrance into the grave is from the back side of the monument. The tomb has six broad steps leading to the sepulcher; the chamber measures 3.17 m long by 2.11 m wide by 2.11 m high and has a low and narrow entrance.

Today in Iran, Cyrus the Great still serves as a hero by a lot of citizens and is looked up to by some as a prophet like figure. He was a strong defender of human rights and was a very kind person as well as a strong leader.

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Cyrus has been a personal hero to many people, including: Thomas Jefferson, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and David Ben-Gurion.[84]

In scope and extent his achievements ranked far above that of the Macedonian king,
Alexander who was to demolish the empire in the 320s but fail to provide
any stable alternative.

—Charles Freeman in ‘The Greek Achievement'[85]

The achievements of Cyrus the Great throughout antiquity are reflected in the way he is remembered today. His own nation, the Iranians, have regarded him as “The Father”, the very title that had been used during the time of Cyrus himself, by the many nations that he conquered, as according to Xenophon:[86]

And those who were subject to him, he treated with esteem and regard, as if they were his own children, while his subjects themselves respected Cyrus as their “Father” … What other man but ‘Cyrus’, after having overturned an empire, ever died with the title of “The Father” from the people whom he had brought under his power? For it is plain fact that this is a name for one that bestows, rather than for one that takes away!

The Babylonians regarded him as “The Liberator”.

The Book of Ezra narrates a story of the first return of exiles in the first year of Cyrus; for this, Cyrus is addressed in the Jewish Tanakh as the “Lord’s Messiah”. Glorified by Ezra, and by Isaiah, Cyrus is the one to whom “the LORD, the God of Heaven” has given “all the Kingdoms of the earth”.