If you travel to Iran, undoubtedly one of your most favorite sites would be in Shiraz. UNESCO World Heritage sites of Persepolis and Pasargadae are located near Shiraz in Marvdasht and are worthy-visiting sites which remained from the civilization of Persians during Achaemenid Empire. Follow us to give some useful information about them.
Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid)
Persepolis is a symbol of glory in ancient Persia and the most important site of Shiraz. Perhaps the region of Persepolis and the remaining buildings in it can be considered as one of the most important documents in the history of civilization in the world. Hence, prominent scientists and archaeologists from all over the world have traveled to Iran to visit Persepolis. Persepolis is a relic of Achaemenid kings in Iran from 2500 BC. Considering the greatness of the Achaemenid Empire in ancient Iran, which covered a significant part of the eastern part of the world, we can understand the glory of the headquarters of these kings in Persepolis. What attracts the attention of the world to Persepolis is not only the historical antiquity of this ancient city. Archaeologists have discovered the development of civilization in ancient Persia by carefully studying the inscriptions and artifacts obtained from this region. The social laws of the Achaemenid period have also surprised many historians. We want to introduce the most important parts of Persepolis.
The history and architecture of Persepolis
The construction of Persepolis dates back to 518 BC, about 2500 years ago. Darius I, the third Achaemenid king, ordered the construction of a huge palace in the mountains around Marvdasht; But the process of building the mansions and statues of Persepolis took a long time and continued during the reign of later kings.
Each of the palaces in the Persepolis area was built during the reign of one of the Achaemenid kings. The splendor and beauty of Persepolis buildings still amazes designers and engineers today; It is not easy to build such a huge collection at this time, despite the vast possibilities. According to the surviving inscriptions of the Achaemenids in various places, Darius’ purpose was to build a place as a symbol of progressive ancient Iranians.
The glory days of Persepolis continued until Alexander the Great invaded Iran. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great with his troops invaded Iran and after reaching the seat of the Achaemenid kingdom, looted houses and burned the heritage of Persepolis. Alexander’s hatred of the powerful Achaemenid kings caused him to burn down Xerxes’ palace; But the fire spread to other palaces and destroyed large parts of Persepolis.
Before the destruction of Persepolis, the Achaemenid palaces and mansions, due to being located in one of the best parts of Iran at the foot of Mount Rahmat or Mehr (means kindness), were very scenic and had a beautiful view of the surrounding valleys and plains. Inside Persepolis, there was an area similar to a town, and the distance between the palaces was paved. The interior design of Persepolis has been very advanced according to today’s engineering and architectural standards, and modern order and design can be seen in the division of interior neighborhoods. Persepolis palaces had different uses and each of them was used in different ceremonies and celebrations. Also, Water and sewage piping system in Persepolis is one of the most interesting architectural points. Between the streets, waterways were dug in such a way that rainwater and running water flowed through them and were directed through canals in a specific direction.
Reliefs of Persepolis
Among the most important artifacts discovered in the Persepolis region, we can mention the inscriptions and reliefs that have been engraved in different parts of the palaces and buildings of this region. Due to the antiquity of Persepolis, these findings are one of the most important documents of early civilizations for history in the world and scientists and researchers from around the world have tried to decipher and read these inscriptions and works. Many parts of the lines engraved on the inscriptions are read today; But decipherment of these inscriptions is still going on in different parts of the world.
From a complete examination of the reliefs, it can be concluded that the message of the Achaemenid kings to the future was to show unity, social equality and rich culture in ancient Iran. Maybe that’s why today all over the world, Persepolis is known and people travel to Iran to visit it.
In total, there are more than 3,000 reliefs in different parts of Persepolis palaces, in all of which common concepts can be found. In these reliefs the king is engraved with guards, courtiers, horses and chariots and court elders. One of the interesting points in the design of the sculptures of the gates and the palaces in Persepolis is the direction and movement of the king and the soldiers in these images, so that archaeologists have been able to find the entrances and exits of the palaces accordingly.
A long line of soldiers is depicted on the stairs. On the western sides of the palaces of Darius and Ardashir are engraved maps of the dependent nations. Other engraved images on the walls and entrances of these palaces include images of kings fighting legendary demons.
In the surviving inscriptions from the Achaemenid period in Persepolis, a thoughtful description of how social laws have been discovered. According to information read by western archaeologists, during the Achaemenid period in Iran, men and women had equal social rights. Women were able to work and received special support during pregnancy and childbirth. Inheritance was the same for men and women. This social equality 2,500 years ago in ancient Iran is one of the greatest reasons for historians to wonder.
Gate of Nations
After the entrance stairs, there is a small palace called “Gate of Nations”. The reason for this registration was due to the entry of representatives of different nations from this route and the entrance to other palaces. The pillars of the Gate of the Nations are currently one of the most complete pillars left in Persepolis. This place in the Persepolis area has been used as a waiting room.
Apadana Palace, also known as Bar Palace, was one of the most beautiful and magnificent buildings in Persepolis, built during the reign of Darius I and his successor Xerxes. The construction of this palace took nearly 30 years and similarities have been found between this palace and Darius’ palace in Susa. On the four sides of the Apadana Hall were four towers with guard rooms. The main hall of Apadana Palace is three meters above the Apadana courtyard and the Gate of the Nations, and it rests on a mountain slope. The north staircase attached to the north porch and the east staircase attached to the east porch are the ways that connect the main hall with the surrounding palaces and courtyards. The walls of the stairs are decorated with reliefs and valuable inscriptions.
The beauties of Apadana Hall are indescribable in the past and a study of the elegance of this hall shows that countless artists have participated in the construction of Apadana Palace. This hall had a capacity of more than 10 thousand people.
The most beautiful part of Persepolis is located on the east porch of Apadana Palace. Six of the 12 pillars of this porch still remain, and their capitals are double-headed lions with great elegance. The sculptures of the eastern porch of Apadana Palace are considered to be the most beautiful parts of Persepolis. The elegance of the reliefs on the wall of this porch has attracted the attention of many archaeologists and enthusiasts. Other notable sculptures on the walls include images of people in various coverings, each of whom goes to the king with gifts in hand, and archaeologists have determined their nationality by their clothing and appearance. These images were a symbol of the nationalities under the command of the Achaemenids. Other people’s pictures are related to the servants and crew of the palace in different sections.
It is located in the center of Persepolis. The hall of the Central Palace has been the site of formal and informal consultations and meetings with foreign guests and court elders, and the image of the court elders has been engraved on the steps of the palace. For this reason, this palace is also called “Council Palace” and “Gate of Kings”.
The main building of this palace is rectangular and there is a square hall in the middle of it. The four corners of the hall were supported by tall columns. The eastern entrance of the main hall leads from a narrow staircase to the southern corridor of the Palace of 100 Columns, and the western entrance provides access to the south of Apadana Palace and Apadana Hall. The north gate also leads to the courtyard of Apadana Palace.
Darius private Palace (Thatcher palace)
This palace is one of the first buildings built in Persepolis. Thatcher Palace is located southwest of Apadana Palace, facing the sun, which is why Thatcher Palace is also known as the Winter Palace. On the other hand, the architectural elegance and polished cutting of the stones in the construction of this palace have also made it known as “Mirror House” and “Mirror Hall”.
The main hall was covered with red carpets and precious stones and gold leaf were used to decorate the carvings. Many parts of these carvings have been restored today, and an inscription with three lines of ancient Persian, Babylonian and Elamite, mentions the name of the builder of the palace, Darius I. Many of the pieces of sculpture found in the palace are now kept in the French National Library.
Palace of 100 Columns
“One Hundred Columns Palace” or “Throne Hall” was the second largest palace in Persepolis which is located in the eastern side of Apadana Palace courtyard. 10 rows of 10 columns with engravings and the heads of the cow columns held the two ends of the main hall. The height of each of these columns has reached 14 meters. On the door of this palace, the image of 100 Achaemenid soldiers has been engraved to symbolize the columns of Achaemenid rule.
In different parts of Persepolis palaces, a numerical relationship can be seen between the reliefs of that palace or area with columns, gates and stairs, which it seems that the designers intended to convey a special meaning.
Naghshe Rustam (Necropolis)
Naghsh-e-Rostam area in the north of Marvdasht and 6 km north of Persepolis is one of the most prominent sights in Fars province, which contains relics from the Elamite to the Sassanid era. Among the most important relics left in Naqsh-e Rostam, we can mention the stone tombs of Achaemenid kings in the heart of the mountains and inscriptions and reliefs of Sassanid kings and an Elamite inscription carved on the stone slope of Naqsh-e Rostam mountain.
Stone tombs in the heart of the mountain, which have survived from ancient times, have been other ways of burying the dead in the past. In the Naqsh-e-Rostam region, the tombs of the Achaemenid kings and their relatives in the heart of the mountain are examples of these tombs.
You can visit many interesting things in Naghshe Rajab. The reliefs and beautiful lithographs are placed in this region with strange calmness. The lithographs are from the Sassanid period. Also, the historic town of Estakhr is on the other side of the road. Estakhr historical city was the birthplace of Ardeshir and Shapur Sassanid and they held their coronation ceremonies in their hometown. For this reason, there are lithographs and motifs of their coronation ceremonies in Naghshe Rajab and Naghshe Rostam. Naghshe Rajab is one of the most prominent relief maps from pre-Islamic times. This relief includes four scenes of the coronation of Ardeshir Babakan, the coronation of Shapur I, Shapur I and the courtiers, as well as a scene of Cartier, the Sassanid priest.
¨I liberated the great lands from the oppression of evil kings and gave life to their people. I never allowed the army to ruin, I never entered the temples and clean places of the lands and I declared that everyone is free to do whatever is good and beautiful in life.
As long as I live and Mazda has given me a kingdom, I will respect the religion and beliefs of the people of where I am the king, and I will not allow my rulers and subordinates to despise the religion of other peoples or hurt them.¨
These words were said by a man who is praised by the whole world today. Pasargadae is the burial place of this Persian patriot. A king that Iran is always proud of him.
The ancient complex of Pasargadae, which is a relic of the glorious Achaemenid period, is located in the city of the same name in Fars province. Among the historical structures of this place, we should mention Pasargadae Mosque, Pasargadae Royal Garden, Gate Palace, General Bar Palace, Private Palace, Two Pavilions, Cambyses Tomb, Mozaffari Caravanserai and the fountains of the Royal Garden. But without a doubt, its most prominent attraction is the tomb of Cyrus the Great. Pasargadae was registered as the UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994.
The ancient city of Pasargadae was the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The main area is about 160 hectares and is surrounded by a large natural area. The tomb of Cyrus the Great in the south, Tal Takht (Solomon’s throne) and fortifications on the hill north of the compound, the royal complex (Gate R, public hall or palace s, palace p and royal garden or four gardens) in the center of the main compound and Solomon prison in the north, are the different parts of this royal complex. Most likely, Cyrus the Great himself ordered the construction of this magnificent collection. Evidence such as trilingual inscriptions (Elamite, Ancient Persian and Akkadian) and more or less similar architecture to Persepolis reinforces this possibility.
The best time to visit Persepolis and Pasargadae
Visiting Persepolis and Pasargadae in the hot seasons of the year can be annoying due to the open area of these places and direct sunlight. The best time to travel to Persepolis is in the second half of the year and you can visit Persepolis until the mid-May. To visit the historical site of Persepolis and Pasargadae, it is better to choose the early hours of the day or visit them in the afternoon and after the weather cools down.
In the cold seasons of the year, after sunset, the area of Persepolis and its surroundings are very cold; So, bring the right clothes with you. Cloudy days are also very suitable for visiting because there is no direct sunlight to bother you.
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