Persepolis (near Shiraz, Iran)

Posted in Asia | August 10, 2010 | 0 Comments


Eons have passed and much has changed in the twenty six hundred years that have passed since it was first built, and much of it has been destroyed but vestiges of bygone glory still remain. It lies at the foot of the Mount of Mercy, but mercy was something it was not shown by Alexander of Macedonia as the mighty structure was burnt and with it a monument of rare beauty was lost. Of the original structure, only the pillars that mark out the Hall of a Hundred Columns stands today and witnessing it you being to realize the wealth and might of the ancient Persian empire. It was a civilization that spanned the Indus in India to Thrace in Greece, and from the Volga in Russia to the Nile in Egypt, and at its center was Persepolis.

Many believe that the first global empire was that of the Romans but this is completely untrue, for the Persian Empire precedes it. Located in the heart of the Persian highlands in the Zagros mountain range, the beginnings of this city have been found to be within the time Darius the Great ruled the land. The mountain housed the royal residential palace and if personal accounts are anything to go by it was a sight to behold. To say it was the pinnacle of world architecture at the time would be accurate; to say that this remained so even for a millennium after its inception would also be true. The pride and joy of this complex was the Hall of a Hundred Columns, a structure of exquisite beauty that barely withstood the ravages of Alexander’s attack. The Apadana Palace was the precursor to the Parthenon and the Acropolis, and it was one of several magnificent wonders to be found in Persepolis.

Essentially a mountain city, the royal chamber of the Apadana Palace was the Hall of the Mountain King, as the ruler of each era was referred to, and he ascended the Lion Throne and he was guarded by an army of Ten Thousand Immortals (as was seen in 300, that ode to gore). The Persian Empire was flung far and wide and the King often sent out his emissaries to countries within the Empire’s fold to dispense justice and news. The last of the Persian Kings, Darius III, lost in battle to Alexander at Gaugamela in 331 B.C but history could well have had a different tale to tell. Just as the Immortals were turning the war on its head and leading the Persian cavalry to victory, Darius III fled and Alexander inherited the Persian Empire. As a sign of his conquest, he burnt Persepolis to the ground and so one of the most beautiful cities of the world was lost to the ages.

The Persian Empire was not entirely lost though; it left many gifts to be passed on from generation to generation, including feats of engineering, art, architecture and an administrative system so immaculate that the Romans copied it in its entirety. The beauty of the Persian Empire might be lost upon us, but in eternity its grandeur still echoes every now and again, and Persepolis even today is ample proof of that majesty.

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