Stone cutting and engraving and construction of glorious buildings was not so popular in the Sassanid period as in Achaemenid period. Perhaps if one compares these two periods the Sassanian rank was far loftier than the Achaemenid period. Nevertheless like their Achaemenid ancestors (the Sassanians believed to be the true descendants of Achaemenid Dynasty which had been overturned in 330 A.D. by Alexander) were interested to record important events during their reign such as victory over enemies, ascension to the throne, coronation, and displaying the magnificence of their courts on the breast of mountains in Iran and particularly in Pars or Fars province.
With the exception of engravings that have survived at Taqe Bostan near Salmas all the Sassanian images were made in Pars (Fars) province because the Sassanians were very much in love with their original birthplace. Most the inscriptions in Pars are religious or symbolic in nature whereas the images and inscriptions in Taq-e Bostan are less religious and mostly refer to private and royal ceremonies and the glory of their courts. But since the Sassanian kings believed that kingship was a divine gift bestowed by Ahura Mazada, such a definition are frequently visible in the majority of their inscriptions particularly in Pars.
In this short article we hope we can introduce to some extent the Sassanian images and inscriptions to interested readers. In conclusions it must be noted that these images and inscriptions are the most important and most valid sources to trace the Iranian history and it would be appropriate to do more and more to preserve them.
Persepolis (Takht- e Jamshid)
Persepolis is undoubtedly the most impressive of all the archaeological sites in Iran, not only because of its sheer size but by the nature of the ruins themselves which display some of the finest examples of Achaemenian carving to be seen anywhere.
The site of Persepolis is extensive and a good two hours are needed for the visit. Allow at least a half- day's excursion from Shiraz (120 kilometres [75 miles] there and back) and more if you want to visit the other sites nearby. Be careful in summer as the sun is very hot and the ruins offer little shade.
Around 518 BC as soon as work on Susa was finished, Darius I began the construction of a new capital in the plain of Marv-e Dasht, near Pasargadae, Cyrus the Great's capital. Parsa (better known in the West by its Greek name, Persepolis) never had an administrative or commercial role but is generally thought to have served for the New Year celebrations.
The site of Persepolis was carefully chosen: the palatial complex was built to impress those who came to it and symbolized the power of the Acbaemenian rulers. The trip each year from Susa, the administrative capital some 500 kilometres (311 miles) away, would have been a long and difficult one, and this isolated position would have accentuated the prestige and glory of the king. Indeed, beginning with the reign of Darius, the whole region of Fars appears to have taken on a sacred character linked to the religious beliefs which lay behind the very principle of royalty: the Achaemenian kings held their power directly from the god Ahura Mazda, and the political and religious aspects of the coronation ceremonies, held nearby at Pasargadae, and of the New Year ceremonies are therefore difficult to separate from one another. It is in this context that the decision to build the royal cemetery at Naqsh-e Rostam, a few kilometres away from Persepolis, must be seen.
Thanks to the numerous inscribed tablets that have been found, it has been possible to establish a detailed chronology of the construction of Persepolis, which lasted over 60 years. The terrace, apadana, monumental staircases and Darius palace (tachara) were all built during Darius reign (522-486 BC). Xerxes I (486-465 BC) added the great Gate of All Nations and his own palace (hadish); he also began work on the Hall of a Hundred Columns which was finished in the reign of Artaxerxes I (465-423 BC). But the construction of Persepolis was never really completed and several buildings, including Artaxerxes Ifs palace (359-338 BC) were left unfinished. The term _palace given to some of the buildings may be somewhat misleading as it is debatable whether the Achaemenian rulers ever actually lived at Persepolis except during the New Year celebrations. Excavations carried out in the plain at the foot of the terrace have uncovered buildings belonging to a lower city. Even in the king’s absence, a minimum staff of priests and soldiers would most probably have remained at Pcrscpolis all year round to protect the buildings and ensure their upkeep.
Alexander the Great entered Persepolis in January 330 BC. The town had surrendered without a fight but it was sacked and the royal treasure taken away, although the buildings appear to have been left intact and were guarded by Macedonian soldiers. Much controversy has ans'en over the destruction of Persepolis: were the palaces deliberately burnt on Alexander orders, or was the fire that destroyed them accidental, a consequence of one of the conquerors orgies? The event is interpreted by some as Greek revenge for the destruction of the temples of Athens by the Persians in 480 BC, but it has rightly been pointed out that Alexander, who was not in the habit of destroying the cities he conquered had absolutely nothing to gain from the burning of Persepolis. Whatever the real reasons behind the fire, the city was entirely destroyed and abandoned thereafter.
Europe rediscovered Persepolis at the beginning of the l7th century when travelers brought back descriptions of the ruins, but it was not until the early l9th century that the first excavations were carried out. The Oriental Institute of Chicago began systematic digs under the direction of Ernst Herzfeld from 1931 to 1934. These excavations were continued by Erich Schmidt until .1939, and then taken over by the Iranian Archaeological Service.
Tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae
The tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae is his burial place following his death in the summer of 530. Located in ancient Persia and in present day’s Fars province, it lies 43 kilometers from Persepolis and is one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is said to be the oldest base-isolated structure in the world. Despite having ruled over much of the ancient world, Cyrus the Great would design a tomb that depicts extreme simplicity and modesty when compared to those of other ancient kings and rulers.
Cyrus the Great
The Tomb is simple in form, constructed of large, carefully dressed ashlar blocks set with precision and secured by dovetail clamps. It has six broad steps leading to the sepulcher. Whereas each of the three upper steps are 0.57 meters high, each of the lower ones are 1.05 meter high. The lowest step seems a bit taller as part of the foundation is exposed. On the northwest side a narrow doorway, 1.39 m high without the sill and 0.78 m wide, leads through a small passage to a chamber measuring 3.17 meters long, 2.11 meters wide and 2.11 meters high. The gabled stone roof is hollow. Around the Tomb were a series of columns although the original structure which they supported is no longer present.
The design of Cyrus' Tomb is credited to Mesopotamian or Elamite ziggurats, but the inner chamber is usually attributed to Urartu Tombs of an earlier period. 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.
During the Islamic conquest of Iran, the Arab armies came upon the Tomb and planned to destroy it, considering it to be in violation of the tenets of Islam. The caretakers of the grave managed to convince the Arab command that the Tomb was not built to honor Cyrus, but instead housed the mother of King Solomon, thus sparing it from destruction. As a result, the inscription in the Tomb was replaced by a verse of the Quran, and the Tomb became known as the Tomb of the mother of Solomon.
Pasargade was first archaeologically explored by the German archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld in 1905, and in one excavation season in 1928, together with his assistant Friedrich Krefter. Recent research on Pasargadae’s structural engineering has shown that Achaemenid engineers built the city to withstand a severe earthquake, what would today be classified as 7.0 on the Richter magnitude scale. The foundations are classified as having a base isolation design, much like what is presently used in countries for the construction of facilities, such as nuclear power plants, that require insulation from the effects of seismic activity.
Ghal'eh Dokhtar" or the Maiden's Castle, is a castle made by Ardashir I, in present Day Fars, Iran, in 209 AD. It is located on a mountain slope near the Firouzabad-Shiraz road.
This structure was built by Ardashir I. The name implies it was dedicated to the Goddess Anahita, to whom the term "Maiden" refers. After capturing Isfahan and Kerman from the Parthians, he (re)built the city of Gur nearby the castle in Firouzabad, making it his capital. After defeating Ardavan V (Artabanus V), the Parthian king, in a great battle in 224 AD, he built the Palace of Ardashir nearby the Ghal'eh Dokhtar structure. Ardashir's grandfather was a prominent priest of the Goddess Anahita at the nearby temple of Darabgard, "City of Darius."
Built on a high bluff, which overlooks the river and roadway running south from Fars. The entrance to the castle is through a tall gateway in a large, rectangular tower. Inside this a broad stairway leads up to a rectangular hall, with blind niches on either side or two large buttresses at the east end. These supported stairways up to the next level, another large rectangular room, 14 x 23 m, with an arched recess, an iwan, at the east end and arched blind windows on either side.
The fortified palace is splendidly coherent and confident building contains many of the recurring features of Sasanian palace and civic architecture: long halls, arches, domes, recessed windows, and stairways. The construction is uniform of roughly shaped stone and mortar, but the surfaces were obviously all finished with a thick coating of plaster or stucco, giving a smooth and elegant appearance, which could have been decorated with ornamentation or painting.
It is located at the northeastern entrance of the city, on the way to Marvdasht and Isfahan, between Baba Kouhi and Chehel Maqam Mountains near Allah-O-Akbar Gorge.
The Gate was first built during the reign of 'Adud ad-Dawla. By the time of the Zand dynasty, it had sustained a lot of damage, so it was restored and a small room on top was added, in which were kept hand-written Qur’āns by Sultan Ibrahim Bin Shahrukh Gurekani. The two Qur’ans are known as Hifdah-Man. Travelers passing underneath the gates were believed to receive the blessing of the Holy Book as they began their trip or journey from Shiraz.
During the Qajar dynasty, the gate was damaged by multiple earthquakes; it was later restored by Mohammad Zaki Khan Nouri. In 1937 the two Qur’āns were taken from the gate and were taken to the Pars Museum in Shiraz, where they remain today. In 1949 the arch of the gate was restored by Hosein Igar, a merchant also known as E'temad Al-Tejar.
Today the gates are part of a city park where Shirazis relax and picnic during their leisure hours.
Eram Garden, Bagh-é Eram (Garden of Paradise) is a famous historic Persian garden in Shiraz, Iran. It is a large garden with a wonderful looking palace in it. Its site close to the embankment of the Kushk river was formerly on the northwestern fringe of the city but is now well inside the greatly expanded urban area.
The idyllic Eram Garden is a striking location for visitors with a variety of plants as well as a historic mansion.
Although the exact date of the construction of the garden is not clear, historical evidence suggests it was constructed during the Seljuk Dynasty on the orders of the celebrated Seljuk monarch Sanjar as many other gardens were planted during his reign.
Like many other historic monuments in the southern city of Shiraz, it was restored and repaired by the Zand kings (1750-1794).
The decoration of the pavilion was completed by Hassan Ali Khan's son Abol Qassem Khan who inherited the garden after his father. The garden finally went to Abol Qassem Khan's son Abdullah Qavami who sold it to Qashqai tribes once again.
The beautiful three-story pavilion of the garden was constructed based on Safavid and Qajar style of architecture.
The lower story of the mansion has an impluvium especially designed for relaxation during the hot days of summer. The ceiling of this structure is beautifully adorned with colorful tiles. A small stream also passes through it, connecting to a large pool in front of the building.
The middle storey has a large veranda erected on two pillars behind which stands a magnificent hall. On the two sides of the hall there are two corridors each having 4 rooms and two small terraces .The front sides of the pillars are decorated with tiles showing the images of horsemen and flowers.
The upper story consists of a large hall whose windows open to the main veranda. It is also surrounded by two corridors leading to two terraces. On the entablature of the building there are three arched (semi-circular, crescentic) pediments ornamented with tile work.
The garden with its beautiful flowers, refreshing air, tall cypresses (a stately, beautiful cypress tree there known as sarv-e naz which is said to go back to 3000 years ago) and fragrant myrtles is a major tourist destination especially in the spring.
The lower sections of the building’s exterior are formed of 2 - meter - high plain and carved stones and on the eight columns there is the exhibit of two Qajar soldiers and six inscriptions. The inscriptions have been inscribed by Mirza Ali Naghi Khoshnevis in Nastaligh style of writing. In the portal of the building there are three large and two small sessions.
The spring, which flows in the waterfronts, right in the middle of the building pours into ponds and grants Eram garden a great appeal. The cypress tree in this garden is quite famous.
After the coup detat of 1332 (1953) and the exile of the Qashqa`i brothers, who in the meantime had regained ownership of the Bag-e Eram, the government confiscated the garden and later on gave it to the University of Shiraz.
Now a property of Shiraz University, it has been turned into a botanical garden and is open to the public as a museum. The mansion has also been assigned to the Faculty of Law of the university.
It has been named after a legendary garden called Eram in southern Arabia, built by order of Shaddad, an Arab king, to compete with Paradise.
Vakil Bazaar is the main bazaar of Shiraz and is located in the historical center of the city in Darb’e Shahzadeh near the Vakil Mosque. It displays a beautiful architecture with wide corridors and high ceilings along with openings which allow air circulation and penetration of light. It extends from near the Isfahan Gate to where the Bazaars of the old city of Shiraz begin, and it comprises arched alcoves with wide platforms in between, and seventy four high and well-proportioned arches sustaining the roof. There is a high domed crossing, where the east and west bazaars diverge from the main bazaar. Several of the main arches, and a number of intervening alcoves of the Vakil Bazaar, which were used as shops, were demolished when the Zand Avenue was extended eastwards.
The Vakil Bazaar was constructed of yellow bricks following the design of the earlier royal bazaar in Isfahan. It has five entrances with two rows of shops (Hojreh), situated north-south and east-west direction and perpendicular to each other. The floor of these shops are elevated about 70 centimeters from the street level, leaving a shelf in front of the shops running in all the length of the street. This shelf is about 1 meter wide. The Bazaar has beautiful courtyards, caravansarays, bath houses, and old shops which are deemed among the best places in Shiraz to buy all kinds of Persian rugs, spices, copper handicrafts and antiques. Like other Middle Eastern Bazaars there are a few numbers of mosques and Imamzadehs constructed adjacent or behind the Bazaar.
Some beautiful monuments remained from Karim Khan Zand who named himself Vakiloroaya in Shiraz . In addition to governmental buildings there are some constructions and palaces used to be ceremonies and residence .Some mosques bazaar and caravansi known as Vakil one of them is Hamam-e-Vakil (Bath) which is 11,000 sq. m. , the square footage is 11,000 meters , the length is 120 m. and the width is 80 m. ; it was built by order of Karim Khan Zand on Taleghani st.in Darb Shazdeh district in 1187 (Lunar) A.H.
The bath had been built according to the most advanced principles of architecture of the; for example, the entrance is small and has a mode steep hallway led to a vestibule lower than the level. The cloakroom entrance is angular to prevent cold to enter and heat to exit. The hot chamber is paved with stones under which is a narrow corridor through which heat weather and steam passed to heat the bath floor sooner. In the south of the bath there is the reservoir with two great boiler to heat the water. Also there is a marble pool in the middle of each alcove. Some beautiful designs under the dome show some religious, love, traditional and fictional tales.
Working glazed tiles above the mosque there is an inscription of Koran verses with the date 1306 A.H. (Lunar) written in Sols writing in the name of Fathali Shah by Hossein Ali Mirza.