Shiraz , The cradle of royal civilisation of the world and of Persian History. It holds splendour and the magnificent ruins of Persepolis and Passargade (550-330 B.C). The illustrious 1000-year-old city of Shiraz is a cultural centre and home to the famous mystic poets Saadi and Hafez. The city offers exquisite mosques, sacred shrines, tombs, lush rose gardens, and a short drive away, Takht-e Jamshid (which the Greeks called ‘Persepolis’) – the world famous archaeological site founded by Darius I and Xerxes in the 5th and 6th Centuries B.C. and razed by Alexander the Great over two hundred years later. Shiraz is one of the most pleasant cities in Iran, with its relaxed, cultivated and generous inhabitants, wide tree lined avenues, and a multitude of monuments, gardens and mosques.
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Persepolis herself capital of the mighty Persian Empire stands on the celebrated site of an Achaemenian palace built 2,500 years ago by Darius the Great, with wonderfully preserved rock reliefs and columns on a spectacular terrace.Persepolis is the most impressive of all archaeological sites in Iran, because of its size and the nature of the ruins which display some of the finest examples of carving to be seen from ancient world. At its height the Persian Empire stretched from Greece and Libya in the west to the Indus River in present-day Pakistan in the east. The Persian kings used Persepolis primarily as a residence and for ceremonies such as the New Year’s celebration (Nowrooz). Each year, at Nowrooz (the national festival of the vernal equinox) representatives from all nations of the Persian Empire brought tribute to the king. Persepolis consists of the remains of several monumental buildings on a vast artificial stone terrace: The Apadana palace, the earliest and grandest of all palaces of Persepolis. It was the great audience hall where the king received delegations from the vassal nations. The magnificent Eastern Staircase of the Apadana has a carving 23 delegations from subject nations of the Persian Empire in almost pictographic detail, bearing tribute to the Persian king. The palace of Darius: The Tachara, or winter palace, was used by the king during the celebrations. It had red floor and doorways decorated by imaginary creatures in battle with king or scenes of him being tended by attendants holding a fly whisk and a parasol. The gate of all nations : The gate was made of the time of Xerxes to allow delegates to rest and wait their turn for…
Pasargade: Impressive excavations of an early Achaemenian capital and the site of Cyrus’s tomb are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid, today an archaeological site and UNESCO World Heritage site. The ruins represent the earliest known example of Achaemenian architecture. The most important monument is the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of Persian Empire who ruled from his capital Pasargadea and rapidly established a vast empire. The tomb chamber has a unique architecture with simple structure build of white limestone set on a stepped platform locally known as the tomb of Solomons mother. The largest of the building known as Cyrus royal residence with a bas-reliefs bears a cuneiform inscription in old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian. Near by stand the Gatehouse , the most complete early Achaemenian bas- reliefs in existence (207 meters high) in the shape of the unique four-winged figure on the door jambs. Further on, there is a square tower known as Solomons’s prison , which might have been a fire temple or a royal tomb.
Spectacular cliff-face reliefs embellish the tombs of the Achaemenid kings, with Sassanid bas-reliefs and Zoroastrian monuments. One of the most important Achaemenian and Sasanian sites in Iran. Four tombs belonging Achaemenid are carved out of the rock face including Darius I and three of his successors, probably those of Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. The outer façade, in the shape of a cross had an opening in the centre which leads to the funerary chamber. They are all at a considerable height above the ground. Seven oversized rock reliefs at Naqsh-e Rustam depict monarchs of the period. One is the relief of the investiture of Ardashir I the founder of the Sassanid Empire is seen being handed the ring of kingship by the god Ahura Mazada both are on horseback. The other is the triumph of Shahpur I, this is the most famous of the Sassanid rock reliefs, and depicts Shahpur’s victory over two Roman emperors, Valerian and Philip the Arab.
ishapour- the large archaeological site at features the remains of the palace of the Sassanid King Shahpour in a superb mountain setting. The city of Bishapur, built by Shapur I in 266 AD was estimated to have 50,000-80,000 inhabitants and by the 10th century it fell into ruin. What is left from the Royal city includes: the remains of Shapur castle with the cruciform-shaped hall, a large court, when discovered, was still paved with stone and bordered with colourful mosaics combined with Roman and Iranian motifs depicting nobles and ladies, dancers and musicians. Some of these fascinating mosaic panels are in Tehran, some in the Louvre in Paris. There was also a second palace with traditional features of Persepolise architecture; some believe this palace may be built for the defeated Valerian. Near by are the remains of a fire temple dedicated to Anahita, godess of water and fertility. The six Sassanian bas-reliefs are carved on the rock face in a splendid location surrounded by trees and overlooking the river of Shapur.