Of the greatest wonders of the ancient world, few were as magnificent as the city of Persepolis, and far fewer still stand. Intricate details preserved at the site rival some of the wonders of Egypt. Founded by Darius the Great in 520 BC, Persepolis is a living legacy of the mighty Persian empire. Designed by architects from all over the expansive empire to his palace at Persepolis, the carved walls depict African kings and Asian merchants, all converging into the empire's great capital.
Enter the golden city through the Gate of All Nations. Imposing even in decay, the gate was the first site for countless ancient travelers meeting this grand capital. Towering pillars hold their detail through the millennia, a survivor of the regions turbulent history. As you wander through the massive array of pillars, walls, statues, steps, artworks, palaces and tombs, gain an appreciation for the civilisation that conquered half the earth while humanity was still finding it's feet.
Hiking up the the rockhewn tombs that overlook Persepolis, you can gain a perspective of the sheer scale of the city. As grand as the empire it captained, the complex shows the marks of well lived in quarters and grandiose palaces and halls. Take yourself back, and take in one of the world's most impressive ancient sites.
You can orientate yourself from Shiraz, a beautiful city in the south of Iran (read about it here). With plenty to do, see, and eat, and nice places to stay, it makes a better hub for a day trip to Persepolis than other neighbouring cities. You cannot get a bus to Persepolis. You can either:
Get a bus from Shiraz to Marvdasht, and take a taxi from there to Perseopolis, or just take a taxi from Shiraz. Better yet, take a tour to the start which starts in Shiraz. This will include the transport and a guide, which is a fantastic inestment if you really want to understand the site and appreciate the significance of some of the things you can see there.
So what are those things to do?
The site includes a number of different palaces, tombs and a museum dedicated to the Achaemenid period. Highlights include the 'Gate Of All Nations', 'The Great Staircase' and the rock-hewn tombs carved into the surrounding hills. Take a full day to wander through the site and to appreciate the incredibly well preserved relics and designs.
Top Tip Not In The Guidebook
The place is absolutely covered in wasps. It might vary by time of year (I was there in August), but if you, like me, are very afraid of wasps it's really off putting. It's not so bad as to ruin the site, but damn was it annoying to have to be swatting/running away from little stingy bastards all day. Be warned.
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