The Persian Empire (550 - 330BC) was the largest empire by percentage of world population in history, and was said that around 480BC, 44% of the world's population lived in the Persian Empire. The full day 500 km road trip (we hired a driver-cum-guide for US$170) departing from Yazd towards Shiraz has brought us through these ancient sites of the Persian empire.
Expenses for 2 persons: S$285 (Meals - S$ 20, Transport - S$230, Entrance tickets - S$35)
Things to Do / Places to see in Pasargadae, Naqsh-e Rustam and Persepolis
was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, the first empire established as the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great. With its historical significance in ancient history, without a doubt it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
. Upon entering the compounds (150,000 IRR / S$6.50 per pax) of the ruins (which measure a massive 2 km x 3 km), we came across this imposing limestone tomb where once held Cyrus the Great's sarcophagus.
Even though this ancient site has plenty of historical value, much of the compounds were barren (most of the ruins were probably not excavated yet), with little pieces of ruins left exposed on the ground. To fully appreciate the value of this site, we suggest further reading/research before visiting this site, as there were not many signages nor monuments to visualise the architecture then. The Audience Hall of the Pasargadae Palace below was in the early stages of restoration.
Restoration was on-going for some of the monuments, such as the 'prison of Solomon' below, but perhaps due to the lack of visitors, it wasn't extensively restored yet.
Next up, Naqsh-e Rustam
(100,000 IRR / S$4.30 per pax) is an ancient necropolis (large cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments) housing 4 tombs of the Achaemenid kings. The entrance to each tomb is at the center of the cross, which opens to a small chamber where the sarcophagus was laid.
The entrances are about 10 metres above ground, but are not accessible by the public. Beneath the entrances are rock reliefs carved with large figures of kings from the Sasanid dynasty (a later period than the Achaemenid dynasty) in combat or meeting gods.
The most famous rock relief is Triumph of Shapur I, that depicts the victory of this Sasanid king over two Roman emperors.
The most impressive Persian ruins has to be Persepolis
(150,000 IRR / S$6.50 per pax)
, the ceremonial capital of Achaemenid Empire, where kings hosted all foreign dignitaries.
Considered to be one of the world's greatest archaeological sites (inscribed as a UNESCO
site), the site was built over a span of almost 100 years (518BCE ~ 424BCE), through 3 generations of Achaemenid kings. The Gate of All Nations below, was where foreign dignitaries would enter the complex with their gifts and wait in the holding area.
There were several palaces built during the different kings' reigns and bas-reliefs were evident on most walls and doorways, depicting either foreign dignitaries making their way to the palace or battling scenes between warriors and beasts.
Foreign dignitaries had brought gifts representative of their nations to the palace as shown below, including animals and agricultural produce.
Bas-reliefs of Persian Royal Guards and the famous Lion vs Bull battle scene, symbolising Nowruz (Persia's New Year) in Zoroastrianism.
The Palace of Hundred Columns (below) was built during the reigns of Xerxes and Artazerxes I, where 100 stone columns used to support this hall measuring almost 70 square metres.
As the day drew to a close, we took a step back and admired the sunset view in this massive site (all 125000 sqm of it).
Last glance at the Persepolitan Stairway, consisting of 111 steps, each measuring 6.9 metres wide.
While history isn't our favourite subject in school, this one day tour of these ancient ruins gave us a more complete picture of Iran's history.
Next stop: Shiraz