Iran was once the heart of the mighty Persian empire and the Persian empire’s ceremonial capital was Persepolis. Full of columns, detailed reliefs, imposing gateways and staircases, it is also infamous as the ancient city Alexander The Great burnt down!
As a lover of history, especially ancient history, my travels in Iran meant a visit to the ruins of ancient Persepolis was an absolute must!
Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C. and added to by Xerxes I and II, and Artaxerxes I, II and III ancient Persepolis was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models.
Entry to this incredible palace complex is via the Grand Stairway carved from massive blocks of stone.
The Grand Stairway leads up to Xerxes’s Gateway, or the Gateway of All Nations. The gateway is seriously impressive and guarded by bulls with the head of bearded men and gorgeous wings. These winged and bearded beasts are some of my all-time favourite ancient monuments ever!
The impressive structures don’t stop there. Persepolis is also famous for the bas-reliefs of the Apadana Staircase. These intricately detailed reliefs depict dignitaries from the nations of the time bringing gifts to the Persian king. These nations include Parthians, Egyptians and Ethiopians!
As you would expect for such an impressive complex all buildings were built on a large scale and the Palace of the 100 Columns was no exception. Sadly all that is now left are only parts of the columns.
Also a must see are the incredible rock-hewn tombs at Naqsh-e Rostam believed to be the tombs of Darius II, Artaxerxes I, Darius I and Xerxes I only six kilometres from the ruins of Persepolis
Exploring the impressive ruins of ancient Persepolis was proof once again that there is so much more to Iran than you can ever imagine!
Do you like to visit ancient ruins when you travel? What’s your favourite?