The ancient city of Persepolis was once the richest city on Earth, the ceremonial capital of Achaemenid Empire. It was established during the heyday of the first civilization in the area. Human remains found in the area of the ancient city, are estimated to be 7,000 years old, and the inscriptions on the stones were made 4,000 years ago, during the pre-Iranic civilization of Elam. The ruins of the city are situated 70km northeast of Shiraz in the Fars province.
After the death of Cyrus the Great, who fell in the battle at the age of 60, Darius I, who used to be the flag bearer of Cyrus' son in Egypt, became the ruler of Iran. He lead his troops to Pasargadae, and built Persepolis – the Persian city. The city was built in VI-V century BC and became the new capital of ancient Iran – the great Achaemenid Empire with 28 provinces. Back then, territories of Egypt, Syria, parts of India and other lands belonged to Iran. During the rule of Darius, Apadana Palace, Council Hall, the main imperial Treasury and its surroundings were constructed.
Persepolis was the summer residence of Persian kings, their place for recreation and religious holidays. During the holiday of Nowruz, which lasted 13 days, the representatives of all the provinces came here with offerings for Darius. The son of Darius, Xerxes the Great waged his war against Greece from Petropolis and piled up the treasure in the vast store rooms. The palace of Xerxes was twice as large as the palace of Darius, consisting of two royal mansions.
In 330 BC Alexander the Great captured Persepolis and ordered to burn Xerxes' palace to the ground. When the palace was excavated, three feet of ash covered its floors and many of the columns had marks from the two thousand year old flames. Historians are not entirely sure if Xerxes' palace was burned by accident or as a deliberate act of revenge for Persian burning of the Acropolis of Athens.
From 316BC onwards, the city gradually declined, but the ruins of the Achaemenid empire remained as a witness to its golden era. Nowadays you can see the ruins of the colossal buildings of the city, made out of dark marble, the Gate of All Nations with Lamassus – bulls with the heads of bearded men, Apadana palace built by Darius, the Throne Hall, many other palaces, storerooms, stables and quarters. The walls of the buildings retained beautiful bas-reliefs with figures of warriors, animals and battles of the time. The kings Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II are buried in the Tombs of Kings on the site.