When viewing the ruins of Persepolis from a distance, one word comes to mind: Breathtaking. As you near closer and actually come up to the Grand Stairway leading up to Persepolis, this feeling does in no way pass.
In front of you at the top of the stairway is the Gate of All Nations — where foreign delegations that were subjects of the Achaemenid Empire would enter — probably one of the most known images of Persepolis.
View of the Gate of All Nations palace.
A pair of massive, bearded male heads atop the bodies of bulls with the wings of eagles stand facing the Western threshold, with another pair on the Eastern threshold. realize here how advanced this civilization was — over 2,400 years ago — as you stand beside these extremely ornately carved statues.
Another beautifully carved, well-known carvings near the Gate of All Nations are the Griffins. You can stand right up to them and see even after 2,400 years they look as though they were carved only yesterday.
Sculptures of griffins in ancient Persepolis
You can easily spend 3 hours (feels like 15 minutes) examining the amazing reliefs spread out — where perfectly symmetric Persian & Median tribes would be carved in a gateway — one side of their body to the right of you, and the other to your left. There are multiple examples as well where large columns were only being constructed when the city was plundered by Alexander of Macedon in 330 BC.
The Palace of 100 columns (or what remains) is amazing to see — most columns are toppled, but many bases still remain, and are magnificent to see these and imagining the massive palace these columns would have once supported above your head.
Palace of 100 Column
The Tripylon (Hall of Audience) shows reliefs of all of the subjected nations under the great Achaemenid Empire.
On the mountainside behind Persepolis are the tombs of Artaxerxes II & Artaxerxes III. It is a very steep walk with not a great path to get to the tombs (half way up you are climbing over very large rocks to reach the top), but once there it is well worth the trip. From the tombs you get the entire enormous view of Persepolis, and you could sit and stair for a long while, taking in the enormity of this once — and still — grand city.
Christopher D Gurnee, Illinois