What to Look Out for When Visiting Persepolis

Naghsh-e Rostam near Persepolis, Iran | Richard I'Anson
Naghsh-e Rostam near Persepolis, Iran | Richard I'Anson

When you travel to Iran, visiting Persepolis is most likely going to be part of your travel itinerary. There is much to discover in this Persian city and Carmen, who has lived in Iran for 11 years, gives you some tips on what to see in Persepolis.

About 519 BC, King Darius commenced construction on the citadel of his new capital, Parsa. The citadel and its city came to be known in the western world as Persepolis, the Persian city.

Travellers while visiting Persepolis in Iran ©sunriseOdyssey

For nearly two hundred years, Persepolis was the most magnificent and richest of cities, until its destruction by fire in Alexander of Macedonia’s invasion.

There is much to see at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Below are some suggestions for when you're visiting Persepolis:

1. At the Gate of All Nations bearded figures stand protector at each end. From 1638 to 1962, many travellers engraved their names on the gatehouse walls.



2. For a panorama of the site, and to appreciate its size, climb to Artaxerxes II’s tomb hewn into the mountain. The tomb’s facade is based on that of Darius’ palace below.



3. A highlight when visiting Persepolis is the set of reliefs on the eastern staircase of the Apadana, or audience palace. Outstanding amongst these are the subject nations bringing their king gifts. Like all reliefs at Persepolis, these were once brightly painted.

See the sole female depicted at Persepolis: – the Elamites’ lioness. Her twin cubs are being carried behind her, their little legs dangling.



Two beautiful carvings not to miss when visiting Persepolis are those of the Assyrians presenting rams, and the Lydians offering miniature stallions (with their forelocks and tails tied as if for battle) pulling a chariot.

4. In Darius’ private palace hall, keep an eye out for the doorway reliefs of the king. The holes in the reliefs once attached the figures’ gold crowns, earrings, torques and bracelets.

Darius' private palaca, Tachara, Persepolis - Iran

5. Leave time for the building containing the Persepolis Museum, the only structure to be restored. Regarded as being fairly accurate, the building’s column bases were actually square, not bell-shaped! The stone door jambs and windows are original.

Why not go on a visit and see Persepolis for yourself!

The writer of this article on things to see when visiting Persepolis in no way condones the graffiti or other acts of vandalism carried out at Persepolis, in whatever era they occurred.

Carmen Aim is a New Zealander who has lived in Iran for 11 years. She writes novels of history and adventure.


Iran, Central Asia

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