Susa is one of the oldest cities in the world.It was a principal city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires and was originally known to the Elamites as ‘Susan’ or ‘Susun’.
The palace complex of the Persian King Darius I, the Great (522-486 BCE), provides unique evidence of the sophistication of Achaemenid architecture and construction. This palace, built 2500 years ago in western Iran, lay at the centre of the Persian Empire that stretched from the Nile and the Aegean to the Indus Valley. First rediscovered in 1851, the Palace of Darius was partly excavated over the next century but it was only field research between 1969 and 1979 by the noted French archaeologist Jean Perrot which revealed the site’s full dimension and complexity. Its bull-headed capitals, enamel friezes of richly-clad archers holding spears, figures of noble lions and winged monsters, introduced a new iconography into the ancient Persian world. The discovery and excavation of the palace, which this book records, thus casts a new light on the beginnings of the Achaemenid period. Edited by the distinguished scholar of ancient Persia, John Curtis, the lavishly illustrated volume is a work of seminal importance for the understanding of ancient Persia, likely to be radically altered by Perrot’s research and findings.
The Tomb of Daniel is the traditional burial place of the biblical prophet Daniel. Various locations have been named for the site, but the tomb in Susa, Iran, is the most widely accepted, it being first mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Asia between 1160 and 1163. Visitors are able to walk through the remains of the ancient palace that stands over the Tomb of Daniel. The conical building shown in the pictures above is where the mausoleum of Daniel stands
The Chogha Zanbil is the oldest existing Ziggurat or step temple situated in the Near East, belonging to the Elamite period. The Chogha Zanbil located in the province of Khuzestan in Iran is one of its kinds remaining outside Mesopotamia. The name Chogha Zanbil, translated as ‘basket mound’ is a significant archaeological site of Iran and the near East.The area was destroyed in 640 BC and abandoned and later got covered by sands carried by the river floods. The locals called it a sand hill without knowing what was inside it for almost 2500 years. Chogha Zanbil was later excavated by Roman Ghirshman during the period from 1951 to 1961.





The Pasargadae the capital of Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC) and where Cyrus was entombed, Pasargadae was a city in ancient Persia, located in Morghab Plain near the city of Shiraz and is today an archaeological site that is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cyrus the Great began building his capital in 546 BCE or later; it was unfinished when he died in battle, in 530 or 529 BCE.

Tomb of Cyrus the great

The most important structure in Pasargadae is the tomb of Cyrus the Great. It consist of six stone tiers with a modest rectangular burial chamber above, and it’s unique architechture elements of  all the major civilisations Cyrus the Great had conquered.

The design of Cyrus’s tomb is credited to Mesopotamian or Elamite ziggurats, but the cella is usually attributed to Urartu tombs of an earlier period. In particular, the tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae has almost exactly the same dimensions as the tomb of Alyattes II, father of the Lydian King Croesus; however, some have refused the claim and according to Herodotus, Croesus was spared by Cyrus during the conquest of Lydia, and became a member of Cyrus’ court.

The main decoration on the tomb is a rosette design over the door within the gable. In general, the art and architecture found at Pasargadae exemplified the Persian synthesis of various traditions, drawing on precedents from Elam, Babylon, Assyria, and ancient Egypt, with the addition of some Anatolian influences.

Cyrus private palace

In the same complex and about 1 K.M north of the Cyrus Tomb begin the insubstantial remains of the aerly Achaemenid empire. Cyrusy Private Palace is first, notable for it’s  unusual H shaped plan, central hall of 30 columns and wide verandas front and back. further 250 meter is the rectangular Audience Palace, which once had an 18 meter high hypostyle hall surrounded by smaller balconies, incredibly, one of the eight white limestone plinth. In both the audience Palace and in Cyrus Private Palace there is an cuneiform inscription that reads: ” I am Cyrus, the Achaemenid King”

Throne of the mother of Solomon

Another 500 meters from Cyrus Private Palace  are the remains of the Prison of Solomon variously thought to be a fire temple, tomb, sun diall or store. On the hill beyond is the throne of the Mother of Solomn, which was actually a monumental 6000 sq metere citadel used from Cyrus’s time until the late Sassanian period.


The Naghsh-e Rajab is an Archaeological site north of Persepolis and dates back to the reigns of Ardeshir I and Shapur the Great from the Sassanid Empire (224 – 642 A.C)

Guide to visit Naghsh-e Rajab

Naqsh-e Rajab is the site which is dedicated to four bas-reliefs that date to the early Sassanid era. One of the carvings is the investiture inscription of Ardeshir I (r. 226 – 241), the founder of the Sassanid Empire. The second investiture inscription is Ardeshir’s successor, Shapur I (r. 241 – 272). A third bas-relief, known as ‘Shapur’s Parade’ celebrates the king’s military victory in 244 over the Roman emperor Valerian and Philip the Arab. A fourth bas-relief and inscription is attributed to Kartir, high priest under Shapur I and his sons Hormizd I (r. 272 – 273) and Bahram I (r. 273 – 276).


The Rock tombs of Naghsh-e Rostam are magnificent hewnout of a cliff high above the ground. this ancient necropolis that is a collections of Achaemenid Tombs located next to the nearby Persepolis, and also lies a few hundred meters from Naqsh-e Rajab. The oldest relief at Naqsh-e Rustam dates to 1000 BC. Though it is severely damaged, it depicts a faint image of a man with unusual head-gear and is thought to be Elamite in origin. The depiction is part of a larger mural, most of which was removed at the command of Bahram II. The man with the unusual cap gives the site its name, Naqsh-e Rostam, “Picture of Rostam”, because the relief was locally believed to be a depiction of the mythical hero Rostam

The Achaemenid rock tombs

Four Achaemenid rock tombs from left to right as you look on the cliff, are believed to be those of Dariush II (423 – 404 B.C), Artaxerxes I (465 – 424 B.C), Darius I The Great (522 – 486 B.C), Xerxes I (486-465)

Although historian are still debating on this. The Achaemenid Rock Tombs of the later Artaxerxes above Persepolis were modelled on Naghsh-e Rostam. however the reliefs above the opening are similar to those at Persepolis, with the kings standing at fire altars supported by figures representing the subjects nations below.

The cruciform designs of the tombs are supposedly represents the cardinal points while some historian wonder whether this religious symbols has any relationships to the Christian cross.

Sassanid stone relifs in Naghsh-e Rostam

The eight Sassanid Stone reliefs cut into the cliff depict scenes of Imperial conquests and royal ceremonies:

The investiture relief of Ardashir I ( 226-242)

The triumph of Shapur I (241-272)

The “grandee” relief of Bahram II ( 276-293)

The two equestrian reliefs of Bahram II (276-293)

The investiture of Narseh (293-303)

The equestrian relief of Hormizd II (c. 303-309)


The Persepolis Or Parse was one of the ancient capitals of Persia, Persepolis, was established by Darius I in the late 6th century BC. Its ruins lie 56km north-east of the city of Shiraz, in an small town called Marvdasht, where the dry climate has helped to preserve much of the Persepolis architecture. Darius transferred the capital of the Achaemenian dynasty to Persepolis from Pasargadae, where Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, had ruled.

Construction of Persepolis began between 518 and 516 BC and continued under Darius’s successors Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I in the 5th century BC. Known as Parsa by the ancient Persians, it is known today in Iran as Takht-e Jamshid (Throne of Jamshid) after a legendary king. However, The Greeks called it Persepolis.

Gate of the nation

The Gate of All Nations or Gate of Xerxes palace is located in the ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis, it was buld by King Xerxes I , so whenever important deligations arrived, their presence was heralded by trumpeters at the top of the staircas, the Gate of the All Nation is still wonderfully impressive and guarded by bull like figures that have a strong Assyrian character. above these, there is cuneiform inscription in Old Persian,Neo Babylonian and Elamite Language that king Xerxes says:

“by the favor of ahuramazada this Gate of All Nation was built much else that is beautiful in this Parsa, which i built and my father built.”

Apadana palace and the bas reliefs

Importand Persian and notables of Medes were probably ushered to the South, The Apadana Palace was constructed on the terrace of stone by Xerxex I and Apasada Palace is reached via another staircase. Although it can be difficult to picture the grandeur of the palace from what we see today, the bas-reliefs along the northern wall avocatively depict the scene of splendour that must have accompanied the arrival of delegations to meet with the King.

Most impressive of all and among the most impressive historical sights in all of Iran, are the bas-reliefs of the Apadana Staicase on the eastern wall, which can also be reached from the nearby Palace of 100 Columns . The northern panels recount the reception of the Persian in long robes and the Medes inshorter dress, the three tiers of figures are amazingly well preserved. Each tier contains representations of the most elite of the Achaemenid soldiers, the imperial guard and the immortals, on the upper tier, they are followed by the royal procession, the royal valets and the horses of the Elamite king of chariots, while on the lower two tiers they precede the Persian with their feather head dresses and the Medes in their round caps.

The stairs themselves are guarded by Persian Soldiers the central panel of Apadana Staircase is dedicated to the symbols of Zoroastrian deity Ahura Mazada that is symolized by a ring with wings, flanked by two winged lions with human heads and guarded by four Persian and Median soldiers; the Persian are the ones carrying the indented shields, also, there is an inscreptions announces that the Apadana Palace was started by Darius and completed by Xerxes abd implores god to protect it from famine, lies and earthquakes.

The most interesting panel at the southern end are the most interesting, showing 23 deligations bringing their tributes to the Acahaemenid King. This rich record of the nations of the times ranges from the Ethiopians in the bottom left corner, through a climbing pantheon of, among variours other peoples, Aarabs, Thracians, Indians, Parthians and Cappadocians, up to the Elamites and Medians at the top right.

guide to visit persepolis

Tripylon; the King Xerxes hall of audience

This Small but handsomely decorated Palace is known as both the Tripylon and Xerxes Hall of Audience. The Palace stands at the heart of the Persepolis but what its exact function was remains unknowns. but one of the more widely accepted theories is that the Kind Xerxes used this Palace to receive notables and courtiers in a private area, possibly to make important political decisions. On the columns of the eastern doorway are reliefs showing Darius on the Throne, borne by the representatives of the 28 countries; the crown prince Xerxes stands behind his father, The 28 representatives have their arms interlinked, as the union of nations.

Tachar and Hadish palace

The Southwestern corner of Persepolis is dominated by Palaces believed to havebeen constructed during the reigns of Darius and Xerxes, The Tachar Palace or Dariush Winter Palace is easily the most striking, with many of its monilithic doorjambs still standing and covered in bas-reliefs on the southern side bear highly skilled reliefs and are some of the most photogenic in Persepolis. The Tachar Palace opens onto Royal Courtyard and flanked by two other Palaces, to the East is the Hadish Palace  that was completed by king Xerxes and reached via another monumental starircase.

Some Scholars speculate that its wooden columns on stone bases might have served as kindling for Alexander’s fire especialy to the torch. there is another unfinished Palace to the south known as Palace H.

Treasury and tombs in Persepolis

The southeastern corner in Persepolis is dominated by Darius Treasury, one of the earliest structures at Persepolis. Archaeologist have found stone tables in Elamite and Akkadian detailing the wages of thousands of labourers. When Alexander looted the treasury it’s reported he needed 3000 camels to cart off the contents. The foundations of walls and bases of more than 300 columns are all that remain.

On the hill above the treasury are the rock hewn tombs of Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III

Palace of 100 column

The Palace of 100 Columns  has an extravagant square hall  measuring almost 70 meters square and supported by 100 stone columns, the Palace of 100 Columns was the second biggest building at Persepolis, buit during the time of Xerxes  and Artaxerxes I , some scholars believe it was used to receive the military elite upon whom the empire’s security rested. an impressive array of broken columns remain  and reliefs of the doorjambs at the southern side of the  building show a king, soldiers and representatives of 28 subject nations.

Little remains of the Hall of 32 Columns built at the very end of the Achaemenid time. The arrival of Alexander and his armis stopped work on a larger version of the Gate of All Nations, in the wide courtyard in front of the Palace of 100 Columns which now called the Unfinished Gate.