Taq-e Bustan information
Tucked into a towering cliff are inscribed some extraordinary Sassanian bas reliefs, set in and around a pair of carved alcoves. Originally the site of an earlier Parthian royal hunting garden, the Sassanians added their own regal stamp. The biggest alcove features elephant-backed hunting scenes on the side walls and highlights the coronation of Khosrow II (r AD 590–628) beneath which the king rides off in full armour and chain mail resembling the Black Prince (albeit half a millennium before European knights had ‘invented’ such armour). The second niche shows kings Shapur III and his Roman-stomping grandfather Shapur II. To the right of the niches is a fine tableau again showing Shah Shapur II (r AD 379–383) trampling over the defeated Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate (who he’d beaten in AD 363). Shapur II receives a crown of blessing from Zoroastrian god Mithras. Surrounding open-air restaurants remain popular late into the evening. Even after the reliefs-complex closes, sympathetic lighting means that a golden glow emanates warmly from the alcoves, making the reliefs attractively half-visible through trees across a boating pond.