Persepolis Iran | The Splendid Palace
Persepolis Iran or Takht-e Jamshid (The Throne of Jamshid), 60 km northeast of Shiraz city, was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Dynasty, founded circa 518 BC by Darius the Great, 3rd successor of Cyrus the Great. It counts as one of the top Shiraz tourist attractions.
Persepolis is a complex of various palaces, construction of which was continued by successors of Darius I. Ruins of Persepolis Iran was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979, and to this day remains a principal reference to Achaemenian legacy of architecture and urban planning.
Persepolis Shiraz construction was completed over a period of 150 years by subsequent kings Xerxes I and then Artaxerxes I. Ancient Persepolis was destroyed and burnt down into ash during Alexander the Great occupation in 331 BC. Historians debate whether this incident was accidental or intentional retaliation!
(Persepolis opening hours, entrance fee and address are included in the end.)
First, Let’s watch this attractive video about The Throne of Jamshid!
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#1 Meaning Behind the Title Persepolis
To understand the Persepolis definition of the word, you should know a bit about the Greek Language. Capital of Persia in Greek came to be called ”Persepolis” due to the Greek influence. In Greek ”perses,” means ”Persian”, and ”polis” means ”city”–so Persepolis literally means: the ”city of the Persians.”
However, Persepolis ruins have a different name in Persian language; it is called Takht-e Jamshid or The Throne of Jamshid. Jamshid is a mythological character in Persian literature who Ferdowsi (a grand poet who composed Shahnameh) has mentioned him numerous times in his epic masterpiece.
Jamshid was a fair king who ruled over 700 years and whose throne was so heavy that it was carried by mythical giants. Now getting back to reality, after the Arab invasion people had long forgotten the Achaemenes and their glory.
When people and traveller passed by the Achaemenes final capital they obviously could not read the cuneiform while they understood the reliefs and mythical figures.
Since they say the unearthly creatures carved on the walls and pillars they thought this place must be what they had heard in myths of Jamshid. So gradually the ancient city was called the Throne of Jamshid; and is still called Takht-e Jamshid by Iranians.
#2 Persepolis History
Persepolis or Takht e Jamshid in its heyday, was one of four key cities at the heart of an empire that spread from the Indus River to Ethiopia; the other cities were Shush or Susa, Ecbatana (modern Hamadan), and Babylon.
Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis ruins was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-natural, half-artificial terrace, where Darius I, the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models.
A series of architecturally stunning palatial buildings was erected by successive kings during Takhte Jamshid history; Darius I’s son, Xerxes I (486-465 BCE), and his grandson Artaxerxes I (465-424 BCE).
Somewhat surprisingly for a city of such size and grandeur, ancient Persepolis Iran is rarely mentioned by any name in foreign records as far as we know; not much of the written records of the history of Takht e Jamshid. This fact has led some archaeologists to speculate that the existence of the city was kept a secret from the outside world.
In 330 B.C., during the reign of Darius III, Alexander the Great plundered the city and burned the palace of Xerxes into ashes, whose brutal campaign to invade Greece more than a century before had led, eventually, to Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire.
Was it revenge? Or was it something more than just destroying Persepolis Persia?
#3 Persepolis Architecture
Mesopotamian architecture had a great influence on Persepolis Shiraz architecture. Limestone was the main constructing material used in the foundation of Persepolis Iran. Persepolis Architecture will mesmerizes you of its greatness and makes you wonder how it would have looked like in its glory days.
#4 Persepolis Ruins Parts
Guarded by stone soldiers, Apadana staircase is uniquely decorated by fine crafted frieze in three panels. Each one of these panels is divided into several rows and in each row you can see the depiction of the reception of various visitors to Persepolis Iran.
These reliefs are like an ancient textbook of Persepolis history that can be read by the ones with the expertise.
Xerxes’ Gateway or the Gate of All Nations
Built during the reign of Xerxes I (c. 478 B.C.), who called this his Gate of All Nations, the pillared entrance is guarded by mythical figures in the style of Assyrian gate-guards.
The gateway includes a cuneiform inscription in Old Persian, Neo-Babylonian and Elamite languages (so that all nations entering through the gate would know) declaring, among other things, that Xerxes I is responsible for the construction of the Gate of All Nations.
Built during the reign of Darius I the great (515 B.C.), Apadana Palace or Darius Palace was where the invited guests and dignitaries and foreign delegations were received.
The Apadana was almost ruined during the invasion of the Alexander the great, however, 13 intact pillars are outstanding and magnificent.
Moreover, it’s the exquisite reliefs of the Apadana Staircase on the eastern wall that are the star attraction; functioning as a virtual log of visitors to Persepolis Iran from across the Achaemenid Empire which continue to draw people from around the world today.
Palace of 100 Columns or the Throne Hall
Built by Xerxes I around 478 B.C., it is the largest hall of ancient Persepolis Iran. An impressive array of broken pillar remains, and reliefs at the back (south) of the building show a king, soldiers and representatives of 28 subject nations.
When Alexander and his armies invaded Persepolis Persia, the work on a larger version of the Gate of All Nations in the wide courtyard in front of the Palace of 100 Columns stopped; a commentary on the city’s sudden downfall; The Unfinished Gate.
Tombs of the Achaemenes
In the nearby Rahmat Mountain, there are several hewn tombs dug into the mountain, far above the reach of the people. The cross-like façade of the tombs are decorated with reliefs and cuneiform.
Persepolis Opening Hours
8:00 AM – 5:30 PM (Check before you go)