Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BC), and now this place is a UNESCO World Hertiage site near Shiraz city, Iran.

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In its heyday Persepolis was one of four key cities at the heart of an empire that spread from the Indus River to Ethiopia. Its original name was Parsa and it only acquired its Greek name of Persepolis – meaning both City of Parsa (City of Persia) and Destroyer of Cities – after Alexander the Great’s army sacked the city in 330 BC.

Somewhat surprisingly for a city of its size and grandeur, Persepolis is rarely mentioned by any name in foreign records, which focus instead on other Achaemenid capitals including Babylon, Ecbatana (modern Hamadan) and Shush. This has led some archaeologists to speculate that the existence of the city was kept a secret from the outside world.

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1. Apadana Staircase

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The stairs, which are guarded by stone soldiers, are decorated by an exceptionally finely crafted frieze in three panels. Each panel is divided into…

2. Palace of 100 Columns

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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…

3. Apadana Palace

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Constructed on a stone terrace by Xerxes I, the Apadana Palace lies largely in ruins. It's thought that this is where foreign delegations would have been…

4. Persepolis Museum

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Restored in the 1930s, what was perhaps once the royal harem now houses the museum and administrative offices. The museum contains a stone foundation…

5. Treasury

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The southeastern corner of the site is dominated by Darius’ Treasury, one of the earliest structures at Persepolis. Archaeologists have found stone…

6. Private Palaces


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…

7. Xerxes’ Gateway

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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,…

8. Tomb of Artaxerxes II

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On the hill above the Treasury are two rock-hewn tombs. The larger and more elaborate of the two belongs to Artaxerxes II, and clambering up to this…