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Monday, September 01, 2014


  • Chinese President Jiang Zemin (left) at Persepolis in 2002 (epa) - For decades after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran's religious and political leaders had little time for foreign tourists. But in 1998, Iran's president invited Westerners to visit the Islamic republic to start a "thoughtful dialogue between cultures." The doors creaked open, but few tourists have entered.
  • The ruins of the ancient Persian capital at Persepolis (Fars) - Persepolis was intended to demonstrate the power and wealth of the empire, because it was here that provincial rulers brought tributes to the emperor.
  • Persepolis was one of four imperial capitals; its particular role was largely ceremonial (Fars) - And there was plenty of wealth in an empire that stretched from the Nile to the Indus. But in 330 B.C. -- 220 years after its creation -- it was conquered and burnt down by Alexander the Great.
  • The reliefs on the walls show the satraps of the Persian -- or Achaemenid – Empire bringing tributes to the emperor (Fars) - For many years, Persepolis was out of favor even with some Iranians. Through the 1980s, many in the young Islamic republic rejected Iran's pre-Islamic past.
  • The ruins of the ancient Persian capital at Persepolis (Fars) - Some even called for Persepolis to be bulldozed because it symbolized the monarchy. In 1971, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had entertained the world's leaders in a tent city at Persepolis for a celebration of 2,500 years of Persian monarchy.
  • Iranian President Mohammad Khatami at Persepolis in 2001 (AFP) - Attitudes have changed gradually, but dramatically since the 1980s. The number of visitors to Persepolis has soared to around 35,000 a day.
  • A bas-relief at Persepolis (Fars) - Hotels now carry the names of Persian emperors, and Persian imagery is everywhere, from key chains to television advertising. In 2005, Ali Larijani, who in his youth had called for Persepolis to be destroyed, ran for the presidency with Persepolis on his election poster.
  • A tourist at Persepolis this summer (Fars) - Why is ancient Persian history now being accepted, even celebrated? Many Iranians are finding in their pre-Islamic past a new source of pride.
  • Persepolis at sunset (Fars) - Others are reclaiming their identity from Westerners, whose perceptions -- and stereotypes -- were shaped by the ancient Greeks' depiction of the Persians as indolent despots. Instead, they argue, the Persians had a prosperous civilization and an effective empire.

Persepolis: Imperial Persian Capital

Published 27 December 2006

<p> <strong>FURTHER READING:</strong> More RFE/RL coverage of culture in Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia:</p> <p> <a class="" title="" href=";y=2006&amp;id=E0F6751E-A78C-4F60-8B1D-95237710906D" target=""> <strong>U.S. Academics Challenge Seizure Of Persian Tablets</strong> </a> </p> <p> <a href=";y=2006&amp;id=D33E29B5-5B79-48CC-9624-545C4A7F9B57"> <strong>Afghanistan Protects Storied Bactrian Treasure</strong> </a> </p> <p> <a href=";y=2006&amp;id=C189684A-2F37-473D-A192-829CBD5A697A"> <strong>Silk Road Revival Grows As More Sites Protected</strong> </a> </p> <p> <a class="" title="" href=";y=2005&amp;id=E38180CC-A25E-46A3-B47A-D5ADD39E8F29" target=""> <strong>Smithsonian To Release Anthology Of Central Asian Folk Music<br></strong> </a> </p>