The ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings, Persepolis, was one of the most important sites of the Ancient World. Arguably the greatest of the Persian dynasties, the Achaemenids ruled from the 7th to the 4th century BC, and saw the empire at its zenith. Darius the Great initiated the building of Persepolis, a huge undertaking of art and architecture. UNESCO says, “Persepolis was the example par excellence of the dynastic city, the symbol of the Achaemenid dynasty…”
The complex was built over a century on a colossal 40-acre terrace, partly natural and partly constructed of limestone. After conquering the Persians and plundering the city’s riches, Alexander the Great set the stately capital on fire. The abandoned ruins were called, for generations, only the “place of 40 columns.”
Persepolis encompasses some of the most fascinating ruins in the world. What remains is not only those 40 marble columns, but the wide ceremonial staircase, monumental carvings and the famous bas-reliefs showing kings, courtiers and gift-bearing representatives of the Persian Empire’s tributary nations.
PUBLISHED: July 8, 2014