If you’re planning to travel to Shiraz while visiting Iran, you must not leave this beautiful city before visiting the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Pasargadae, home to the mausoleum of Cyrus II and a testimony to the power of the Achaemenid dynasty, is one of the historical places of Iran that has been designated as a UNESCO heritage site. Here’s a look at what you will see in this remarkable landscape.

Historical Background

Pasargadae, a great testimony of Persian civilization, was the most important city of Iranians in the 6th century BC. As the homeland of the royals, it featured several glorious palaces and Persian gardens. The four gardens of Pasargadae are the earliest examples of the famous gardens of Iran that are characterized by architectural plans specific to Persia. Although only a few structures have been left from the magnificent Pasargadae, visiting its remnants gives us an opportunity to learn about the culture, architecture and arts of that era.

It’s noteworthy that the Achaemenid Empire was the earliest multicultural empire of Western Asia as it spanned the whole land from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Hindus River. The cultural diversity of people of Persia during the reign of Achaemenids is particularly notable. The cultural tolerance of the emperor led to a sense of respect and acceptance among people of Persia which has an undeniable value.

Why is it important to visit Pasargadae?

Pasargadae UNESCO heritage site

As Pasargadae is regarded as the earliest example of royal Achaemenid architecture, visiting this ancient city can serve as a tour to the arts and architectural styles of ancient Persia. Moreover, the city represents a remarkable civilization with outstanding cultural values.

Invasions by Alexander of Greece

As your tour guide will explain during your visit to Pasargadae and Persepolis, the magnificent empire of Achaemenids was defeated by Alexander of Greece. Historians believe that the Persian empire had stopped expanding after several defeats in the 5th century when Alexander became the king of Greece.

Alexander destroyed Persepolis and Pasargadae as they were the two magnificent landscapes that symbolized the power of the Achaemenid emperors. However, the mausoleum of Cyrus remained untouched. Two reasons are usually explained for this.

The first explanation is that the Tomb of Cyrus II was located in a spot surrounded by tall trees. Therefore, it was difficult to be found by the invading troops of Alexander.

On the other hand, some believe that once Alexander broke into the mausoleum of Cyrus, he was stopped by seeing an inscription on it. 

It can be translated as:

“Passerby, I am Cyrus, who founded the Persian Empire and was king of Asia.

Grudge me not, therefore, this monument.”

Elements of Pasargadae

The tomb of Cyrus II is not the only interesting structure that you’ll visit in this archeological city. There are many other structures such as the Private Palace of Cyrus, the Audience Hall, the Entrance Palace, the Tomb of Cambyses, the Throne of Solomon’s mother and a Caravansary from the Muzaffarid era.

Learn about the Architecture of Pasargadae

Your tour to the archeological city of Pasargadae will never be complete without information about the architectural characteristics of its structures. The construction of this landscape was obviously inspired from Elamite, Egyptian, Babylonian and Assyrian architecture. However, the style of the whole complex as a collection of several structures is unique to Persians.

You’ll be mesmerized by the glorious sculptures and cuneiforms of Pasargadae. Interestingly, the faces of the sculpture of Pasargadae are all profiles, which is in contrast with many archeological sculptures that were made in full faces.

The main material used for constructing elements of Pasargadae is stone. From flooring to gateways and columns, wherever you turn you’ll see stone – made structures. In addition, the ceilings of Pasargadae are made from wood and its walls are made from sun – dried bricks.

Tomb of Cyrus II

Tomb of Cyrus in Pasargadae

It’s particularly noteworthy that the far-famed tomb of Cyrus II was inspired by Gur-Dokhtar in style of architecture. Gur-Dokhtar is situated in near Poshtpar in western Fars Province and belongs to an ancestor of Cyrus.

The Residential Palace

Pasargadae Palace

Visiting the residential palace of Cyrus, also known as the Private Palace is an interesting experience for history enthusiasts. The asymmetrical appearance of this palace proves that it was under construction at the time of invasion by Alexander of Greece. The carved figures of the palace have given a majestic look to the whole landscape. It’s also noted that the palace is built in a rectangular plan and features 30 columns.

The Audience Hall

As you wander through the remnants of Pasargadae, you’ll see a spacious construction with eight columns that was undoubtedly a lavish royal place. It’s the famous Audience Hall of Achaemenid Empire which served as a venue for meetings and royal events.

You must imagine the columns of the Audience Hall with stone – made horned lions on top of them. Although none of those lions have been remained until today, they are known as typical architectural decorations of Achaemenid palaces.

Tal-e-Takht: The Throne of Solomon’s Mother

Tal-e-Takht, also known as Fortress of Darius is one of the most outstanding parts of the Pasargadae historical site. Darius I, the third emperor of Achaemenid dynasty ordered this fortress to be constructed in the margins of Pasargadae city. Tal-e-Takht served as a venue for religious ceremonies and it was protected by fortresses and scout towers.

Tal-e-Takht features several halls with columns, storehouses and platforms. These are the main elements of royal venues that had been built during the Achaemenid era.

Restoration of Pasargadae

The remnants of Pasargadae have been carefully restored in a way that the authenticity of the whole site has not been damaged. The general plan of the landscape has not undergone any changes and no modern constructions have been built in the area.

Interested to Visit Pasargadae?

If you’re interested in visiting historical cities, you have to visit Pasargadae during your trip to Shiraz. Learning about the characteristics of this magnificent landscape helps you get a solid grasp of ancient Persia and its glorious history. Contact us at Land of Turquoise Domes for information about our many tours and itineraries.