Few places capture the imagination quite like Persepolis. Known as ‘Parsa’ to the Achaemenid Persians who built it, the city is known to the West by its Greek name, which means ‘City of Persians’. Creative, those Greeks.
Founded around 518 B.C. by Darius I (whom we saw buried at the Naqsh-e Rostam necropolis) and constructed over the course of the next century or so, Persepolis served as the ceremonial capital for the Achaemenid Empire. Built upon a massive, man-made terrace, the city is approached up a stairway with 110 steps, which symbolize the 110 postal offices of Persia’s postal system–the world’s first. The steps are shallow, presumably so that elderly ambassadors and heads of state could make a dignified entrance to the city.
Once up the stairs, the gates of the city loom. Guarded by massive sculptures of fantastic beasts known as lamassu, the gate is still impressive 2.5 millenia after it was built.