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Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid), Shiraz

Persepolis, Takht-e Jamshid, Shiraz, Gate of All Nations

Persepolis is a symbol of glory and grandeur in ancient Iran and one of the sights of Shiraz. Perhaps the region of Persepolis and the remaining buildings in it can be considered one of the most important documents in the history of civilization in the world. Hence, prominent scientists and archaeologists from all over the world have traveled to Iran to visit Persepolis.

Persepolis is a relic of Achaemenid kings in Iran from 2500 BC. Given the greatness of the Achaemenid Empire in ancient Iran, which covered a significant part of the eastern part of the world, we can understand the glory of the headquarters of these kings in Persepolis.

What attracts the attention of the world to Persepolis is not only the historical antiquity of this ancient city. Archaeologists have discovered the development of civilization in ancient Iran through careful study of inscriptions and artifacts from this region. The social laws of the Achaemenid period also surprised many historians.

 

 

Introducing Persepolis

Persepolis is known in the world as a symbol of Persian civilization in Iran. Persepolis area near Marvdasht, Shiraz in Fars province, shows the architectural glory of the palace of kings in the era of ancient Iran. At the height of their power, the Achaemenid kings built their stone palaces in the heart of the mountains near the city of Shiraz to give a clear picture of the future of their rule.

Takht-e Jamshid (in Persian) is known in the world as “Persepolis”, which is the Greek name. Columns, column heads, inscriptions, reliefs, palaces and gates left in the Persepolis area are among the most famous works of civilization in the world. The Persepolis area, also known as the “Land of Persia”, attracts many tourists from all over the world to Shiraz throughout the year.

The construction of Persepolis was started by Darius the Achaemenid about 25 centuries ago in the foothills of the mountains of mercy. Countless architects and artists participated in the construction of the Persepolis building, and these huge buildings were built by male and female workers; But what adds to the value of Persepolis in history is the way the Achaemenid kings treated the workers, who in ancient Iran were paid appropriate wages and benefits in return for the labor of the workers. According to the information in the inscriptions, the construction of Persepolis took about 120 years. 

 

 

History of Persepolis

The construction of Persepolis dates back to 518 BC, about 2500 years ago. Darius I, the third Achaemenid king, ordered the construction of a huge palace in the mountains around Marvdasht; But the construction of the mansions and statues of Persepolis took a long time and continued during the reign of later kings.

Each of the palaces in the Persepolis area was built during the reign of one of the Achaemenid kings. The splendor and beauty of Persepolis buildings still amazes designers and engineers today; To the extent that it is not easy to build such a huge collection at this time, despite the vast possibilities. According to the surviving inscriptions of the Achaemenids in various places, Darius’ purpose in building this building can be considered as a symbol of progressive ancient Iran.

For several years, workers dug up mountains and paved foothills to build palaces and mansions. The main material in the construction of palaces was stone, which was used in different resistances. Carving stones and polishing them into large pieces and transporting them to heights is one of the most interesting parts of building palaces that attracts the attention of modern engineers, architects and designers.
The construction and completion of Persepolis palaces continued until the end of the Achaemenid rule; But many parts of this building were built and decorated in the time of Darius I, Xerxes and Ardashir I. The luxurious palaces of Persepolis were the residence of the Achaemenid kings for many years and are still considered as one of the most prominent and lasting historical documents of ancient Iran.

The selection of the mountains around Marvdasht by Darius I, considering the location of the mountain in relation to sunrise and sunset, green plains around it and the location of this area on the royal road, has been very smart.

In recent years, due to the extensive damage to the buildings of Persepolis, this area has been repaired many times. In 1930, the reconstruction of Persepolis was under the supervision of the American Archaeological Group. During the excavation, the inscription of Xerxes was discovered, and thus they were able to identify the palace of Queen Xerxes. A few years later, in 1935, a German group reconstructed some of the inscriptions and strengthened the palaces and columns of Apadana Palace.

The reconstruction process continued until 1940, which led to the discovery of many works and inscriptions from this area. Many of these works are in the Persepolis Museum and some of the works discovered are kept in the National Museum of Iran; Unfortunately, many works have also been taken out of the country and placed in museums and libraries in Europe and the United States. In recent years, measures have been devised to further protect the Persepolis area and its archeological sites, and the reconstruction of various parts of it is still ongoing.

 

 

Persepolis before destruction

The glory days of Persepolis continued until Alexander the Great invaded Iran. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great with his troops invaded Iran and after reaching the seat of the Achaemenid kingdom, looted houses and burned the heritage of Persepolis. Alexander’s hatred of the powerful Achaemenid kings caused Alexander to burn down Xerxes’ palace; But the fire spread to other places and destroyed large parts of Persepolis.

Before the destruction of Persepolis, the Achaemenid palaces and mansions, due to being located in one of the best parts of Iran at the foot of Mount Rahmat or Mehr, also called Mitra, were very scenic and had a beautiful view of the surrounding valleys and plains. Inside Persepolis, there was an area similar to a town, and the distance between the palaces was paved. The interior design of Persepolis has been very advanced according to today’s engineering and architectural standards, and modern order and design can be seen in the division of interior neighborhoods. Persepolis palaces had different uses and each of them was used in different ceremonies and celebrations.
Water and sewage piping system in Persepolis is one of the most interesting architectural points. Between the streets, waterways were dug in such a way that rainwater and running water flowed through them and were directed through canals in a specific direction. In general, the architecture of palaces, interior decorations, landscaping of Persepolis, urban style, separation of residential areas from the royal settlement and design of Persepolis, according to modern standards and after more than 2500 years, is a proud document of ancient Iran.

 

 

How old is Persepolis?

Persepolis buildings are more than 2500 years old. Remains of Elamites and early governments in ancient Iran have been discovered in parts of Iran; But Persepolis, due to its greatness and glory, can be considered the most prominent historical monument from ancient times in Iran.

Persepolis is world famous and in many famous museums of the world, samples of works discovered in Persepolis are kept. Although Persepolis is located in Iran, in terms of outstanding historical potential and having signs of the oldest historical civilizations, it is a great treasure for all people of the world. Therefore, the name of Persepolis, as the second historical and cultural monument in Iran, was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

 

 

Where is Persepolis?

Persepolis, which is located in a pleasant climate near Merv Dasht, Shiraz in Fars province. Despite the tropical nature of many parts of Fars province, this region near Marvdasht has a cool and temperate climate due to its mountainous environment. Persepolis is located in mountainous areas between the villages of Firoozi, Kanareh and Istkhr.
The ancient region of Persepolis is located northeast of Shiraz and Merv Dasht. The distance from Shiraz to Persepolis is 70 km and Marvdasht is located 11 km southwest of Persepolis. To go to Persepolis, you can choose the best route to enter Fars province according to your location. If you enter Fars province from the north, you do not need to go to Shiraz. From Abadeh city in the north of Fars province, go on the Abadeh-Safashahr to Safashahr highway and reach Marvdasht highway by continuing the route and passing Saadat Shahr. After passing the villages of Hashtijan and Istkhr, you will reach the exit of Persepolis. Once you enter the underpass, you will reach the entrances of the ancient complex of Persepolis after about five kilometers.

If you are going to Persepolis from Shiraz, go to Marvdasht from the north exit of Shiraz and after passing this city and entering the Marvdasht-Saadatshahr highway, go to Persepolis exit. This time you will reach the ancient site of Persepolis from the exit on the right. It is better not to choose busy days and holidays to visit Persepolis complex so as not to be in traffic.

 

 

Visiting hours of Persepolis

Holidays in Nowruz and official holidays in Iran are some of the busiest times in Persepolis. Visiting this complex at these times may reduce the quality of your visit a little due to the high traffic at the entrance of the complex and the crowded area of ​​Persepolis and the museum; So, if possible, choose secluded days in the middle of the week and non-holidays to visit the Persepolis complex.

In the Persepolis area, during the past years, special programs called light and sound shows are performed at sunset, which are held on busy days and special days of the year. If you are interested, you can inquire about the exact time of the event during the year by inquiring about the collection before visiting.

It is possible to visit the historical complex of Persepolis every day of the year. Only on holidays on the occasion of religious mourning, the 13th of Farvardin (April 2) and special days of this collection will be closed and will be informed on the official website. To visit the Persepolis Museum and also to participate in the Light and Sound program, you have to pay a separate fee and purchase a separate ticket.

Visiting hours: 8 am to 5:30 pm
Light and sound program: 20:30 pm

 

 

The best time to travel to Persepolis

Visiting Persepolis in the hot seasons of the year can be annoying due to the open area of ​​Persepolis and direct sunlight. The best time to travel to Persepolis is from mid-April to late May. Early autumn is also a good season to visit Persepolis. To visit the historical site of Persepolis, it is better to choose the early hours of the day or visit Persepolis in the afternoon and after the weather cools down.

In the cold seasons of the year, after sunset, the area of ​​Persepolis and its surroundings are very cold; So bring warm clothes with you. Cloudy days are also very suitable for visiting Persepolis; Because there is no direct sunlight. For convenience, it is better to have a hat and sunglasses with you.

 

Different parts of Persepolis

Persepolis area is composed of different parts. In general, the buildings and palaces of Persepolis were built in the middle flat area and the south, southwest and east sides of this area. The entrance to the complex is a staircase through which you can reach a wider space. In this section, we will examine the different parts of the Persepolis area.

 

1- Entrance stairs

The entrance stairs consist of two parallel and symmetrical rows of stairs. The distance between the stairs is paved and the stairs continue in a zigzag manner to the top and reach a wide area of ​​the palaces at a height of 12 meters. The height of these stairs is short and they can be easily climbed. This short stair design seems to have been on horseback for ease of movement; Of course, entering the interior of the palaces was not allowed and it was considered disrespectful to the king. There are small concave shelters along the stairs, which are about 64 cm high and have rectangular niches inside them; Of course, many parts of this shelter have been destroyed today.

The building blocks of the stairs are also large stones that are placed on top of each other without mortar. Four or five steps have been carved from each large piece of stone, and corrosion and abrasion can be seen in many parts of them today. The end of the staircase leads to the Gate of Nations.

 

2- Gate of All Nations

After the entrance stairs, at a distance of 22 meters from the end of the stairs, there is a small palace called the “Gate of Nations”. The reason for this registration was due to the entry of representatives of different nations from this route and the entrance to other palaces. There is evidence that this palace was built during the reign of Xerxes. The palace may have been built in the time of Darius, but its construction dates back to the time of Xerxes.

The Gate of the Nations is a palace with high brick walls and four tall pillars with three entrances. The area of ​​the main hall reaches more than 600 square meters. The roof of the palace is 18 meters high and the columns are about 16 meters high. The pillars of the Gate of the Nations are currently one of the most complete pillars left in Persepolis. The lower part of these columns is bell-shaped and has vertical grooves, and at the top of the column, a round stone is placed on a grooved cylinder. On the round stone, there is a column flower, which is full of patterns, flowers and leaves, and on it, the head can be seen in the shape of a cow’s torso.

 

3- Persepolis Treasury

The Persepolis Treasury is located east of the Persepolis Museum and south of the Hundred Pillars Palace. The remains of this large building are surrounded by high walls and are separated from the surrounding palaces by wide streets. This building, which is one of the first buildings built in Persepolis, was built during the reign of Darius the Achaemenid and was originally used as an office building.

In the western part of the treasury building there are small rooms for soldiers and in the eastern part there is a large courtyard overlooking the columned porches and several halls. The interior of the treasury consists of three halls each with four columns, a room with two columns and two large halls with a corridor between them. The columns of the building were all made of wood and had many patterns and drawings.

 

4- One Hundred Column Palace or Flat Hall

“Palace of One Hundred Pillars” or “Takht Hall” was the second largest palace in Persepolis. This palace is known by this name because of the presence of 100 columns in its central hall; Of course, in the building of Persepolis treasury, before finding this palace, 100 columns in smaller sizes were found, but due to the greatness of this palace, they named this building 100 columns.

During the Sassanid rule, Persepolis was known as “One Hundred Pillars”. This palace is located in the eastern part of the courtyard of Apadana Palace. The construction of the Hall of One Hundred Columns began by order of Xerxes, but was completed during the reign of Ardashir I. The time of construction and the names of the kings are engraved on the cornerstone of the Throne Hall.

 

5- Palace of Xerxes Shah or Hadish

Xerxes’ palace is another famous palace of Persepolis, which is known as “Hadish Palace” and according to what is engraved on the inscriptions, this palace was built by order of Xerxes. Xerxes’ palace is located on the eastern side of “Palace H” and south of the flat area of ​​Persepolis. Although archaeologists estimate the construction of the palace during the reign of Xerxes, the designs on the walls of the palace show signs of the beginning of the construction of this building during the reign of Darius the Achaemenid.

 

6- H palace

The palace of Ardeshir I, also known as the palace or palace H, is one of the palaces of Persepolis, which is left in the southwest of the throne and on the west side of Hadish palace. The painted staircases that overlook the palace from both sides are now in a dilapidated state. The main staircase, according to the surviving written fragment, belongs to a building that was started by Xerxes and completed by Ardashir I. The west and south edges of the main building have a congress on which the shape of a bull’s horn and head is visible. Thelia, the restorer of Persepolis, and his wife have excavated a number of these congresses at the bottom of the throne and installed them in their place. The interpretation of these cowardly congresses is unclear, and whether they were a refuge or a symbol is still unclear. These congresses, one by one, large and small, were decorated with motifs such as arrows and crosses.

 

7- Three-door palace or central palace

The Three-Door Palace has been called the “Central Palace” because it is located in the center of Persepolis. The name of Seh Dari has been chosen due to the existence of three doors of the hall of this palace to connect with the surrounding palaces. The hall of the Central Palace has been the site of formal and informal consultations and meetings with foreign guests and court elders, and the image of the court elders has been engraved on the steps of the palace. For this reason, this palace is also called “Council Palace” and “Gate of Kings”.

The main building of this palace is rectangular and there is a square hall in the middle of it. The four corners of the hall were supported by tall columns. The main entrance to the central hall of the Three-Door Palace is on the east side, and the other entrances are on the south and north walls. The eastern entrance of the main hall leads from the narrow staircase to the southern corridor of the Hundred Pillars Palace, and the western entrance provides access to the southern part of Apadana Palace and Apadana Hall. The north gate also leads to the courtyard of Apadana Palace.

 

8- Bar Palace or Apadana

“Apadana Palace”, also known as “Bar Palace”, was one of the most beautiful and magnificent buildings in Persepolis, built during the reign of Darius I and his successor Xerxes. The construction of this palace took nearly 30 years, and similarities have been found between this palace and Darius’ palace in Susa. The main hall is rectangular and has 36 columns and three porches in the north, east and west. Each porch also had 12 columns. Of all the 72 pillars of the Apadana Palace, only 14 remain, one of which has been rebuilt. On the four sides of the Apadana Hall were four towers with guard rooms.

The main hall of Apadana Palace is three meters above the Apadana courtyard and the Gate of the Nations, and it rests on a mountain slope. The north staircase attached to the north porch and the east staircase attached to the east porch are the ways that connect the main hall with the surrounding palaces and courtyards. The walls of the stairs are decorated with reliefs and valuable inscriptions.

 

9- Darius or Thatcher’s private palace

The palace of Darius I of the Achaemenid dynasty is known as “Thatcher Palace”. This palace is one of the first buildings built in Persepolis. Thatcher Palace is located southwest of Apadana Palace, facing south and the sun, which is why Thatcher Palace is also known as the Winter Palace. On the other hand, the architectural elegance and polished cutting of the stones in the construction of this palace has also made it known as “Mirror House” and “Mirror Hall”.

Thatcher Palace is about two to three meters higher than the surrounding buildings and courtyards and the shape of the rectangular hall and its width is north to south. The central hall of Thatcher Palace had 12 columns and the small rooms north of the hall each had four columns and the south porch overlooking it had eight columns; They were all made of wood, but there are no traces of them today. Two rows of stairs on either side of the hall provided the connection between the north rooms and the south porch.

 

10- Royal tombs

To the northeast of Chah Sangi, near the Palace of the Hundred Pillars, the remains of a mansion with traces of a stone tomb can be seen. The stones of this porch building have been placed on top of each other without mortar and the whole building has been built on a platform. The carved tomb can be seen in the east of this building and it seems that its cruciform shape has been removed from the tombs of Naghsh-e Rostam; However, the lower arm of the cross has been left half-finished.

During the Achaemenid period, the religious beliefs of kings and people were that the human body after death should not contaminate the three pure and holy elements, namely water, earth and fire; So they found another way to bury their dead. Zoroastrian tombs, stone tombs, masters, and large stone coffins that once housed mummified corpses were alternatives to burying or cremating the dead.

 

11- Persepolis Museum

Persepolis Museum is the oldest building of the Museum of Iran, which with the reconstruction of the Queen’s Palace from the complex of Persepolis palaces, has changed its use and made it in its current form. The construction of this museum, also known as the Achaemenid Museum, began in 1311 with the help of Professor Hertzfeld, who led the excavations in Persepolis. The interior decoration of Persepolis Museum with red mortar attracts the attention of tourists. This color has been chosen symbolically due to the old structure of this building and due to the great use of Achaemenids in the interior decorations of Persepolis.

The queen’s palace was built during the reign of Xerxes and by his order. The building consists of a main hall and a large number of rooms, the entrances of which are decorated with drawings of Xerxes and his entourage, as well as lions and monsters. Twelve wooden pillars hold the roof in the main hall, and on each pillar there are statues of cows with two heads.

 

 

 

Mehdi Gholami.

 


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