Before I go on to my favourite part of this trip, just a quick mention of Naqsh-e Rostam, Takht-e Jamshid (Persepolis) and Pasargadae. These ruins are some of the largest remnants of ancient Persia. Joined a tour from Shiraz as that was one of the easiest ways to go.
Naqsh-e Rostam – basically rock tombs. Said to be the tombs of old Achaemenid kings Darius II, Artaxerxes I, Darius I and Xerxes I. I am usually not a fan of monumental tombs – what a waste of resources and for very little public purpose (equally, mausoleums of modern dictators such as HCM and the Kims come to mind). But it is quite a sight as one drives up the road to these cliffs.
Takht-e Jamshid, also known as Persepolis. It was the ceremonial capital of the ancient Achaemenid empire. Walking around this vast compound of broken columns, colossal gate ways and detailed bas reliefs, I was trying very hard to imagine where those high ceilings used to be, somehow wishing they were still there, especially under the hot sun. But the reality of life is that all great empires come to an end. Fallen, to be excavated some day. In the case of the Achaemenid empire, it fell and was looted by Alexander the Great and his army. I also imagined a time when noblemen gathered here, with visitors from all over descending upon this once glorious empire; the entrance has a very grand name – “Gate of All Nations”. I also want a a Gate of All Nations in my imaginary empire.
Pasargadae – the main sight is the tomb of Cyrus the Great, which stands somewhat forlornly by itself as strong winds swept through the surrounding pretty fields.