Saturday, October 17, 2015

Persepolis and Shiraz, Iran, October 16, 2015


exists thanks to the Achaemenid Empire which was the first Persian Empire in the 7th century BC.  Work began on it in 520 BC under the leadership of Darius I (the Great).  During the next 150 years, the following kings added to it: Xerxes I and II, and Artaxerxes I, II, and III.  It was destroyed by fire, thanks to Alexander the Great in 330 BC.  It wasn't until 1930 that excavations began.  

The Grand Stairway is carved from stone.  The steps are really shallow so the Persians, dressed in their finery, could easily climb them-

Xerxes Gateway, also known as the Gate of All Nations-

has guardian bulls carved into the rock.  They have the body of a bull, the wings of an eagle and the head of a bearded man-

The Eagle Griffin Capitals were not used at Persepolis for unknown reasons.  Today, it is the symbol of Iranian Airlines-

The bas reliefs on the Apadana Staircase are one of the most historical impressive sites in Iran.  One can see the most elite of the Persian nobles, the Imperial Guard and the charioteers-

There are also 23 gift bearing delegations representing the 23 nations in the Persian Empire-

Another part of the staircase shows groomsmen leading horses-

and two winged lions with human heads-

High on a hill, overlooking the city is the tomb of Artaxerxes II-

The 100 Column Hall was 4800 square meters.  The roof was supported by 100 columns where the king received military officers-

The Hadish was a palace completed by Xerxes-

The Tachara was a private palace constructed during the reigns of Darius and Xerxes-

There are many reliefs on the staircase-

Only in Iran-

Cool murals with homes and the mountains in the background-

Wearing chadors before we enter a shrine-

The budgie chooses a card from the pile and then the fortune teller reads your future-

Martyr banners are everywhere-

Muslims place a stone on the floor and put their forehead on it when they pray-

A crazy menu and making falafel-

Cooked fava beans, turnips and beets are sold in the street-

Naqsh-e Rostam is tombs of Darius II, Artaxerxes I and Darius I-

The tomb of Xerxes I is the best preserved because of the direction it faces.  There has been less wind erosion to the bas reliefs-

The Investiture of Narse:  Notice the king wearing a fluted hat with a globe in the center and pleated clothing.  There is another figure wearing a crown, with long braids and jewellery-

In the Victory of Bahram II, the king wears a crown adorned with an eagle's wing which represents Bahram, god of warriors.  He's galloping towards the enemy with the intent to kill because he's carrying a sword-

In the Triumph Relief of Shapur I, Shapur I is on horseback, grasping the wrist of a Roman emperor-  

The Ka'bah of Zoroaster was first thought to be a fire temple but now they think it was a treasury-

The Quran Gate

This tree is so cute!  Ignore the outfit please-

Khajou - e Kerman was a great Iranian poet from the 18th century-

We visited the tomb of Sa'di of Shiraz, a renowned Iranian poet, theologian and scholar .  He was born in 606 AD-

His poems are written in rhyming couplets.  Persian is read from right to left.  The alphabet is the same as Arabic but all the words are different-

More beautiful tile work from Sa'di's tomb-

Iranians and Shiites respect all divine prophets including Abraham, Moses, Noah and Jesus but especially the last, Mohammad.  It was Mohammad who introduced his 12 successors, with God's permission, as Imams, to keep divine secrets and knowledge.  

The Ali Ibn Hamzeh shrine is 1100 years old and was built to honor the prophet (Hamzeh) who was born in 806 AD.  He helped his uncle, Iman Riza, the 8th Shiite Imam advertize Islam.  He was martyred in 835 AD-

The tile work on the dome is beautiful-

I have never seen a building decorated like this!  The walls and ceiling were covered in mirrors-

The tomb, again surrounded in green light, signifies a prodigy of Mohammad-

There are stacks of Quarn here-

The tomb of Hafez who is a revered Iranian poet was placed here in 1773 by Karim Khan.  Most Iranians can recite some of his work, in fact Mahti, our guide, recites it to us (we don't understand a word!) and he also explained how in a low point in his life, he read a poem and instantly knew what he had to do.  Also, in a bookstore last night, the shopkeeper recited a long poem to us and all of it is by memory!  

His poetry is broadcast from a speaker system throughout the grounds.  The tomb reminded me of Jim Morrison's grave in Pere LaChaise in Paris.  It's sort of a culty place to hang out-

We visited a 3 generation family run carpet shop.  There are two styles: nomadic carpets are made from the imagination and often represent life or nature.  They are usually made from the wool from the neck of lambs.  The number of knots is not specific.    City carpets follow a specific pattern and are often made from silk.  Knots can be 122 or 144 in 7cm.  Prices depend on the size of the carpet and the number of knots.  They take years to make and are very beautiful-

My carpet cost $250 US and is in nomadic style, made from lamb's wool.  The colors come from natural dyes:  red from pomegranate, blue from indigo, brown from walnut and green from pistachio.  The white/yellow is wool not dyed-

Because it is the time of Hosseinieh, a 10 day time of mourning, brlightly lit floats are paraded down the streets-

and men flagellate to the beating of drums and chanting-

Apparently the action really starts around 1 am, but that's too late for me!

Tomorrow brings visits to a few more sights here in Shiraz and then a long drive to Esfahan!

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