Persepolis (Greek, “City of the Persians”), one of the ancient capitals of Persia, established by Darius I in the late 6th century bc. Its ruins lie 56 km (35 mi) northeast of Shīrāz, Iran. Darius transferred the capital of the Achaemenid dynasty to Persepolis from Pasargadae, where Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire, had ruled. Construction of Persepolis began between 518 and 516 bc and continued under Darius’s successors Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I in the 5th century bc. Known as Parsa by the ancient Persians, it is known today in Iran as Takht-i Jamshid (“Throne of Jamshid”) after a legendary king. The Greeks called it Persepolis.
Persepolis, 480 BC
At its height the Persian Empire stretched from Greece and Libya in the west to the Indus River in present-day Pakistan in the east. The many nations under the empire’s rule enjoyed considerable autonomy in return for supplying the empire’s wealth. Each year at New Year’s—still celebrated in Iran on the first day of spring—representatives from these nations brought tribute to the king. The Persian kings used Persepolis primarily as a residence and for ceremonies such as the New Year’s celebration. The actual business of government was carried out elsewhere, chiefly at Susa and Ecbatana.
The site of Persepolis consists of the remains of several monumental buildings on a vast artificial stone terrace about 450 by 300 m (1,480 by 1,000 ft). A double staircase, wide and shallow enough for horses to climb, led from the plains below to the top of the terrace. At the head of the staircase, visitors passed