Asia Iran Travel

Visiting Persepolis, Iran – the turning tides of history

visiting persepolis iran - persepolis guide

Apparently, some people come to Iran just to see this place. Persepolis, the ancient neighbor of Shiraz. The richest city under the sun. Founded in the VI century BC, in 330 AD became a victim of Alexander the Great imperialist ideas. However, it still had to play a significant role, perhaps the most important one in the contemporary history of Iran.


Rumour has it that Alexander the Great celebrated his conquest of Persepolis so much, that finally, the party got out of control a bit… All in all, the city was burned to the ground. So better reconsider hosting a party at your place next time. Nowadays, historians suspect that destruction of the city was a well-planned idea in revenge for burning Greek temples by Persians during previous wars. What’s the truth? Only Zeus knows! 

Passing between the stone portals, columns, and walls, we wondered, how was it possible that the city was destroyed by fire. The answer was straight on the roofs… In ancient times they were made of wood. While wood was burning, the temperature went up and up and iron clamps bonding the entire structure melted, resulting in collapse. The city, however, reborn from the ashes, like a mythical Homa bird, which you can see both in Persepolis… and on the tails of Iran Air aircrafts. According to Persian legend, the bird was like a phoenix, and when born again, it was invisibly gliding above the ground, never resting.

visiting persepolis iran - persepolis guide - persian city

visiting persepolis iran - persepolis guide - homa bird


The burned cities deteriorated. Over the years, it was more and more abandoned, until completely overlaid with sand and dust from the nearby desert. It was only in the 30s of the XX century, when a brave American archaeologist James Henry Breasted, became interested in an inconspicuous mound. He began intensive excavation. Beneath successive layers of sand, shapes began to emerge… Wide, high stairs… Portals, columns… finally treasuries of Persian kings – Darius and Xerxes. The old ceremonial capital of Persia, built hundreds of years ago to intimidate the guests, once again regained its beauty and splendor. Currently, together with the Acropolis of Athens and the Roman Colosseum, it is a symbol of the ancient world, gone forever.

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History repeats itself… Sumptuous party at Persepolis, more than 1,600 years later, led to the fall of the Persian monarchy. The last Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi organized in 1971 a big party here, to celebrate the 2500 anniversary of the Persian Empire. It cost more than $ 40 million for a three-day reception (some sources say 100-200 million!). Guests from around the world were served with caviar and dishes prepared by 200 cooks brought from Paris. Such ostentatious extravagance of Shah didn’t remain unnoticed by poor and highly divided society.

Pointing out selling the country to Western World imperialists, Shiite clerics condemned the pervasive corruption and the lack of morality, a synonym of the secularization of the society. The poorest, the most religious and at the same time the most numerous social strata quickly and widely began supporting Imam Khomeini. Lack of hope for improvement of their social and financial situation made them seek a bit of relief in religion and Islamic traditions. The Iranian Revolution was knocking at the door… what happened next? Read the book Shah of Shahs by world-famous Polish reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski!

visiting persepolis iran - persepolis guide - column in persepolis

Did Persepolis amaze us? Frankly, we had mixed feelings. Maybe we just saw too many ancient monuments in our lives? Maybe we were just exhausted from our extremely long travel (4 flights!) and a sleepless night? Persepolis was the first place we visited in Iran… Luckily later it only got better!

visiting persepolis iran - persepolis guide - ancient persian city


How much time do you need?? 4 hours, it’s a perfect half-day trip, if you stay in Shiraz.

How to get to Persepolis? Persepolis is located about 70 km from Shiraz. The only reasonable option is a taxi, about 30 $ both ways, your driver will wait for you in front of the entrance. In addition, near Persepolis, there are two interesting places: Naqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab. In the first place there are tombs of Persian kings, presumably, Darius II, Artaxerxes, Darius I and Xerxes I. In the second place there are interesting bas-reliefs carved in the rock. Without a taxi, it’s difficult to visit these places.

Fee: entrance to Persepolis 20 000 tomans (5 EUR), Naqsh-e Rostam 20 000 tomans (5 EUR), Naqsh-e Rajab 8 000 tomans (2 EUR)

Do you also dream of Persepolis? Read more about our adventures in Iran!

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Persepolis is an ancient Persian city. But do you know everything about it? Visiting Persepolis, Iran - how to get to Persepolis?

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