Iran Ancient Cities: The Persian Empire (Ancient Persia)
One of the most exciting subjects of interest in history of Iran is “ancient Iranian cities”. Iran ancient cities are albums of various Persian architectures, diverse Iranian cultures, and different kingdoms of Iran. From south to north, there are cities with landmarks left behind from old times. If you are interested in history of Iran cities, fasten your seatbelt and let’s take a time travel to ancient Persian society and explore the ancient Persia.
Ancient places are those that used to exist long ago. Nowadays some of them have disappeared, some of them only have the remains of old times glory, and some still exist. There are lots of ancient cities in Iran. Ancient Persian society as one of the cradles of history and civilization, has memories from Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanids, and other kingdoms of Iran that are gone but not forgotten.
In different regions of Iran, we can see a memento of ancient Persia. There are Iran Ancient cities in Fars, Bushehr, Kerman, Hamadan and other provinces, each of which has a story about their rulers, people, and culture. These cities testify that the Persian civilization has been alive for more than 30 centuries. Moreover, some Iran ancient cities, are still alive; though they are not as big as they used to be in their golden age.
Ancient Persian Cities and Society
Ancient Persia is a society of happiness, honesty, and prosperity. Long ago, in the age of Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sassanids, curly-haired Iranians built the most brilliant castles and mansions for their rulers, their God, and themselves (if they had enough coins). The remains of ancient Persian cities are still firm and marvelous. There are some landmarks in these cities that show the Iranians will for reading, learning, praying, and development. Furthermore, in such cities, Persian architecture is mixed with cultural, religious, and artistic features of the ancient Persian society.
Kingdoms of Iran in Ancient Times
There are 3 ancient kingdoms in ancient Persian History:
The first and the most famous (Achaemenid kingdom) was established by Cyrus the great. In the age of Achaemenids, Zoroastrianism turned into Iranian popular religion. Achaemenid cities were mostly located in Fars province. Achaemenids had multiple capitals. Each capital was chosen for a purpose. Susa for winter days (because it’s warm) and Hegmataneh for summer days (for it is damn cold). On the other hand, Pasargadae and Persepolis were used as their ceremonial capitals; in which they held their celebrations such as coronation and so on.
The second ancient Iranian kingdom, known as Parthian, was established by Arashk 1st. Tisfoun, the Parthian capital, is located in Iraq nowadays. The last but not the least Iranian kingdom, known as Sassanid, was established by Ardeshir Babakan, who defeated the last Parthian King and won the game! Parthians were the ruling kings of Iran for 400 years and kept Tisfoun as their capital. The growth of Zoroastrianism in this age is indeed visible. Many Sassanid ancient Iran cities are decorated with fire temples from Sassanid period.
Iran Ancient Cities
Actually, the capital of ancient Iran in each period depended on many factors. Some capitals were chosen for their climate during a season (it’s not good for a king to get cold or sunstroke), some of them for their holy landmarks or economical chances (money makes happy), and some ancient Iran capitals were selected because they were close to important places in country, or close to borders with enemies. Anyway, the capitals of ancient Iran are not the only ancient Iranian cities. Some of these cities even belong to pre-ancient ages of Iran. These are some of the most popular ancient Persian city names:
Ancient Iranian Cities, Persepolis
As one of the ceremonial capitals of Achaemenids, this city was built and upgraded by Darius the great. This Achaemenid great king built this place with miraculous settings, in order to prove that he rocks! After the Iranian architects scraped the mountain, they built this city on the corner to save it from earthquake. It is believed that they built it in harmony with natural feautres like mountains and plains around to sort the best urbanization strategy. This city was not built for public life as we know. It is believed that Persepolis was dedicated to ceremonies of the king and his vassals. Also, it is mentioned in history that two Iranian festivals (Nowruz & Mehregan) were celebrated in Persepolis.
Bishapur an Ancient Iranian City
Bishapur, one of the most popular Iran ancient cities, was built in 266 AC, by order of Shahpur the 1st. This capital of ancient Iran was built in a rectangle field, with 4 gates and two roads that caught each other in half. Bishapur was made of two regions. The first high class region included the castle, Anahita temple, Shahpur celebrations chamber and other royal places, and the second area was used as the public city (including houses, forums, bathhouses, caravansaries and etc.). This city was protected by high mountains, deep rivers and other natural occasions around it. There are many historical relics and ancient remains in this city, such as:
- Anahita Temple
- Bishapur River Valley
- The Girl Castle
- Valerian Palace
- Mosaic Chamber
- Salient Figures
As we previously mentioned, Susa (Shush) was a capital of ancient Iran. This city is located in Khuzestan province and after thousands of years, it is still a subject of study. There are so many relics and historical landmarks in Susa, that it takes a book to write about them. One of the most popular places in this city, is Apadana castle, the castle of Achaemenids. Some other spectacular relics in or around Susa are:
- Cheghazanbil Ziggurat Temple
- Shavur Castle (Ardeshir the 2nd’s Castle)
- Susa Castle
- Karkheh Chamber
Ancient Persian Cities, Hegmataneh
Built in 7 centuries BC, by Diocese the king of Medes, it is a capital of ancient Iran. Too many relics and historical items were found in this city, and it is still a good project for Laura Croft (LOL). Hegmataneh (also called Ecbatana), is located in Hamadan nowadays. This ancient Iranian city has a museum in which you can see many ancient items left from Medes, Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanids, and other post-ancient kingdoms. Hegmataneh hill in the suburbs of Hamadan, includes ruins and remains from the ancient city. These remains have archeological and architectural information that represent the urban settings of that age was way further than expectation. Iranian ancient chambers had big rooms, yards and saloons, and the streets and the water supply systems were elegantly sorted.
Siraf, an Ancient Iranian City
As an ancient lovely port in Bushehr province, alongside the Persian Gulf, it has been alive for more than 1500 years. Siraf (Also called Taheri by the locals) has relics from Sassanid kingdom. Back then this city was an important trading port for the kingdom. Iranian merchants could depart to different countries from Siraf. Furthmore, It was the host of Roman, Asian and African merchants who wanted to import their goods to ancient Persia. The historical marks such as ancient graves and other remains, show that this city was the home of different religions who lived together in safety and peace. Some say due to many extreme tsunamis, some ancient parts of the city are now under the sea; yet there still are many remains of the ancient age in this ancient Iranian city. The ancient graveyard, the ancient holes and caves are some examples.
As one of the oldest ancient Iran cities in Yazd province, it shines like a piece of gold in desert. Some historians believe that this city is the first center of sedentary lifestyle. The most popular historical place in this city is Narin castle. Some people believe that first governmental castle in the world. Perhaps due to its ancient history, there are myths about this castle. Some say Solomon, the prophet, built this castle to hide his treasures. To explain more about Meybod, this city has a good Qanat network, and such a water accessibility made it easier for people to start their sedentary life in Meybod.
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