Magnificent Persepolis embodies the greatest successes of the ancient Achaemenid Empire…and also its final demise. The monumental staircases, exquisite reliefs and imposing gateways leave you in no doubt how grand this empire was, just as the broken and fallen columns attest that its end was both emphatic and merciless. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Some historians believe the site of Persepolis was chosen by Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great, but work did not begin until after Darius I (the Great) took the throne in 520 BC. It was added to by a host of subsequent kings, including Xerxes I and II, and Artaxerxes I, II and III, over a period of more than 150 years.
The ruins you see today are a mere shadow of Persepolis’ former glory. But their very existence is due in part to the fact that the ancient city was lost for centuries, totally covered by dust and sand. It wasn’t until the 1930s that extensive excavations revealed its glories once again.
Note that there is little shade at Persepolis and from May until early October it can be sweltering, so bring a hat and water. If you have a backpack or a tripod with you, these will have to be left at the ticket office.
For computer illustrations of Persepolis in all its glory, see www.persepolis3D.com.
Persepolis destination guides
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