The Ancient Persian Empire Comes to Life at Persepolis in Iran
Walking through the ancient city gate, I was already giddy with the atmosphere of the ruins, such a tangible touch of the past. The Persian empire was one of the greatest empires of antiquity and the longest lasting, with its succession of dynasties ruling Iran until 1979. In ancient times, at the height of its power, Persepolis was the ceremonial and ambassadorial center. Modern day Iranians still hold animosity for the Greeks on account of Alexander the Great burning down this jewel of the Persian empire. But enough of the stone infrastructure and artistry still exists to bestow the visitor with a meaningful glimpse at its imposing past -- the heyday when every surface was carved with cuneiform text and bas-relief images, the soaring stone pillars took the shape of heads and horses. I didn't really know what to expect in terms of the preservation quality and how much would be open to the public, or how accessible the ruins would be to my imagination ... would they be more than abstract rubble that would be hard to conjure the past from? Pleasantly, the ruins and the associated necropolis are worthy of a full day's visit (a good day trip from Shiraz), with much to see and marvel at on both the monumental and the minute scale ... impressive size and incredible small detail.