The Palace of Cyrus the Great
Pasargadae is the most important of the other palaces and was in many ways the predecessor to Persepolis. It lies 30 miles north of Persepolis was built by Cyrus the Great in the years around 550 BC, that is a generation before the building of Persepolis.
Today it is best known as being the site of the tomb of Cyrus, a rectangular tomb chamber set above a sloping pedestal, beautiful in its simplicity and well preserved thanks to Alexander the Great who revered Cyrus and renovated his tomb. Today it is splendidly presented at the end of the long approach. All too often such approach avenues are flanked by shops, but here they are confined to the beginning.
The Palace itself lies a mile or so away – a tourist shuttle bus runs between the two sites. But the Palace itself is to our eyes very odd because it is a garden Palace, consisting of just two main palace buildings, set around a garden.
It is approached from the opposite end to the present approach, through an elaborate gateway of which the bases of the columns have been marked out (‘Palace H’).
This then led to the main Audience Hall, where the stumps of the columns have been reconstructed. It appears to have been to some extent, a forerunner of the later Apadana at Persepolis. Beyond, a path then led into the large garden. A stream or small river ran through the gardens and the water channels which led off have been located, which enable the layout of the garden to be reconstructed.
On the far side is the other main building, Palace P, which appears to have been the ‘private’ palace where the Emperor would receive his special guests while looking out onto his garden. There is some suspicion that Cyrus never lived to see it completed, and that it was completed by his successor Darius, who then went on to build his own even greater Palace at Persepolis.
But his tomb at Pasargadae remains one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all the early Achaemenid structures, while his concept of a garden palace is one of the tantalising ideals of how a palace should function both as a grand reception area for visitors, and as a place where the emperor could live and enjoy his achievements.
8th July 2017