Eram Botanical Garden
The Eram Garden is one of the most beautiful and monumental gardens of Iran. Apparently, its history goes back to the period of the Saljuq Dynasty (A.D.1038-1194). Since its construction and until the late 18th century, it was predominantly used by the local rulers and Persian monarchs. At the end of the Zand Dynasty (A.D.1750-1794), the Qashqaie tribal chieftains tookover the garden and the one of them called Jani Khan and his son constructed a building within it
. At the time of Nasir ud-Din Shah Qajar (A.D.1848-1896), a Shirazi nobleman, Haj Nassir ul-Mulk, bought the garden from the Qashqaie overlords and constructed the present charming building. After passing through a chain of owners, the garden was finally handed over to shiraz University in 1963. It is now being used as a botanical garden by plant science researchers and general public.
The main building of the garden consists of three stories. In the basement one can see a beautiful small pond while on the second floor, at the center of the building is a large porch with two high standing pillars.
On both sides of the large porch, two other small porches can be seen facing the rays of the morning sun.
Two-meter high solid stone plates decorate the external facade of the building six of these plates have inscriptions in beautiful cursive Persian, depicting poems by some of the most famous Persian poets, notably Sa’di, Hafez and Shurideh.
On the top of the facade, there are three large and two small crescent-shape tile works, each illustrating an epic or religions event painted on seven-colored titles. The seraglio is located in the back and is allocated to the convenience of the family members. The building also hosts a large pond in front of it.
The presence of tall and beautiful cypress trees around the garden captures everyone’s attention. The pleasant fragrance of flower along with the song of nightingales and the alluring dance of blossoms enchant the visitor.
In 1980, this garden was converted into botanical garden by shiraz University. Since 1999 a comprehensive project entitled The Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of the Eram Garden implemented which has enhanced the beauty and the magic charm of the Eram Garden.
Founded by Darius I in 518 BC (although more than a century passed before it was finally completed by Artaxerxes I), Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. An inscription carved on the southern face of the terrace proves that Darius the Great was the founder of Persepolis.
It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the King of Kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. Before any of the buildings could be erected, considerable work had to be done: this mainly involved cutting into an irregular and rocky mountainside in order to shape and raise the large platform and to fill the gaps and depressions with rubble. The terrace of Persepolis, with its double flight of access stairs, its walls covered by sculpted friezes at various levels, contingent Assyrianesque propylaea, the gigantic winged bulls, and the remains of large halls, is a grandiose architectural creation. The studied lightening of the roofing and the use of wooden lintels allowed the Achaemenid architects to use, in open areas, a minimum number of astonishingly slender columns. They are surmounted by typical capitals where, resting on double volutes, the forequarters of two kneeling bulls, placed back-to-back, extend their coupled necks and their twin heads, directly under the
intersections of the beams of the ceiling
Persepolis was the example par excellence of the dynastic city, the symbol of the Achaemenid dynasty, which is why it was burned by the Greeks of Alexander the Great in 330. According to Plutarch, they carried away its treasures on 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels. What remains today, dominating the city, is the immense stone terrace (530 m by 330 m), half natural, half artificial, backed against the mountains.
It seems that Darius planned this impressive complex of palaces not only as the seat of government but also, and primarily, as a show place and a spectacular centre for the receptions and festivals of the Achaemenid kings and their empire. Darius lived long enough to see only a small part of his plans executed. This ensemble of majestic approaches, monumental stairways, throne rooms (Apadana), reception rooms and annex buildings is classified among the world’s greatest archaeological sites, among those which have no equivalent and which bear witness of a unique quality to a most ancient civilization.
During the following centuries many people travelled to and described Persepolis and the ruins of its Achaemenid palaces. The ruins were not excavated until the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago sponsored an archaeological expedition to Persepolis and its environs under the supervision of Ernst Herzfeld from 1931 to 1934, and Erich F. Schmidt from 1934 to 1939.
On a terrace, as if on a pedestal, the Achaemid kings, Darius (522-486 BC), his son Xerxes (486-65 BC) and his grandson Artaxerxes (465-24 BC) built a splendid palatial complex: propylaea, formal halls and private apartments opening in to courts linked by staggered corridors, based on Mesopotamian forerunners. The Persepolis visible today is mostly the work of Xerxes; the northern part of the terrace, consisting mainly of the Audience Hall of the Apadana, the Throne Hall and the Gate of Xerxes, represented the official section of the Persepolis complex, accessible to a restricted public. The other part held the palaces of Darius and Xerxes, the Harem, the Council Hall and such.
As in Mesopotamia, the principal building material was sun-dried brick; yet the ashlar, mainly used for supporting elements (jambs and lintels of doorways, casings, window-breasts, bases and capitals, etc.), for monumental doorways and for vast sculpted surfaces, has happily survived the vicissitudes of time.
The dynastic capital of Pasargadae was built by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC with contributions from different peoples of the empire created by him. It became a fundamental phase in the evolution of the classic Persian art and architecture. With its palaces, gardens, and the tomb of the founder of the dynasty, Cyrus the Great, Pasargadae represents exceptional testimony to the Achaemenid civilisation in Persia. The ‘Four Gardens’ type of royal ensemble created in Pasargadae became a prototype for Western Asian architecture and design.
Pasargadae is located in the plain on the river Polvar, in the heart of Pars, the homeland of the Persians. The position of the town is also denoted in its name: ‘the camp of Persia’. The core zone of the site is surrounded by a large landscape buffer zone. The core area contains many monuments: the Mausoleum of Cyrus the Great is built from white limestone around 540-530 BCE. The mausoleum chamber, on the top, has the form of a simple gable house with a small opening from the west. In the medieval period, the monument was thought to be the tomb of Solomon’s mother, and a mosque was built around it, using columns from the remains of the ancient palaces. A small prayer niche (mihrab ) was carved in the tomb chamber. In the 1970s, during a restoration, the remains of the mosque were removed, and the ancient fragments were deposited close to their original location.
The Tall-e Takht refers to the great fortified terrace platform built on a hill at the northern limit of Pasargadae. This limestone structure is built from dry masonry, using large regular stone blocks and a jointing technique called anathyrosis, which was known in Asia Minor in the 6th century. The first phase of the construction was built by Cyrus the Great, halted at his death in 530 BCE. The second phase was built under Darius the Great (522-486 BCE), using mud brick construction.
The royal ensemble occupies the central area of Pasargadae. It consists of several palaces originally located within a garden ensemble (the so-called ‘Four Gardens’). The colour scheme of the architecture is given by the black and white stones used in its structure. The main body of the palaces is formed of a hypostyle hall, to which are attached porticoes. The Audience Hall was built around 539 BCE. Its hypostyle hall has two rows of four columns. The column bases are in black stone and the column shafts in white limestone. The capitals were in black stone. There is evidence of a capital representing a hybrid, horned and crested lion. The palace had a portico on each side. Some of the bas-reliefs of the doorways are preserved, showing human figures and monsters.
The Residential Palace of Cyrus II was built 535-530 BCE; its hypostyle hall has five rows of six columns. The Gate House stands at the eastern limit of the core zone. It is a hypostyle hall with a rectangular plan. In one of the door jambs is the famous relief of the ‘winged figure’.
In later periods, Tall-e Takht continued to be used as a fort, whereas the palaces were abandoned and the material was reused. From the 7th century onwards, the tomb of Cyrus was called the Tomb of the Mother of Solomon, and it became a place of
pilgrimage. In the 10th century, a small mosque was built around it, which was in use until the 14th century.