The Ruins of Persepolis - Atlas Obscura

The Ruins of Persepolis

The palace of the King of Kings, burned by Alexander the Great. 


Persepolis was once the richest city on earth, the glittering capital of the Achaemenid Empire. At the heart of the city lay the royal palace—a wonder of gold and silver, ivory, and precious stones. From there, Xerxes planned his war against Greece and the treasure of a vast empire piled up in the storerooms.

In 330 B.C., Persepolis was captured by Alexander the Great. Before he left the city, he ordered the palace burned to the ground—whether through drunken malice or sober calculation, it is impossible to be sure. Today, the haunting, spectacular ruins of Persepolis reveal both the glory of the Achaemenid Empire, and the abruptness of its passing.

The palace is still marked by Alexander’s fire. Three feet of ash covered the floor in some places when it was first excavated and many of the columns are still visibly scarred by those flames that burned over 2,000 years ago.

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