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Naqsh-e Rustam Depicts Persia Necropolises

Naqsh-e Rustam embraces massive tombs and heritage of Elamite, Achaemenid, and Sassanian relics from the 1st millenium B.C.
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Introduction of Naqsh-e Rustam

Naqsh-e Rustam (Necropolis) is one of the most eye-catching ancient sites belonging to the Achaemenid Empire, located within 3 km to Persepolis. Embracing massive tombs of Persian kings, Naqsh-e Rustam dates back to the first millennium B.C with a collection of three periods: Elamite, Achaemenid, and Sassanian relics. On the other hand, “Necropolis” means a large elaborate cemetery of an ancient city; Zoroastrians used to leave bodies on the top of mountains or deserts to Scavenging birds or animals.

History of Naqsh-e Rustam

The founder of Necropolis is Darius I, who ordered his people to bury him in the heart of the mountain, so there is a crypt in the heart of the rock to hold Darius I’s body. Darius I’s tomb is not just a tomb, some roles at the top of the entrance door provide significant information about the Achaemenid era, the country of Persia, and the Naqsh-e Rustam as the permanent home of the four Achaemenid and Sassanid kings, including Xerxes I, Darius I, Ardashir I and Darius II.

Naqsh-e Rustam (Necropolis), Shiraz travel attraction
At the foot of Rahmat Mountain and overlooking Persepolis, the symbol of Persian civilization in Iran, two rock tombs have been excavated in the style of the tomb of Darius I in Naqsh-e Rustam in Shiraz.


Naqsh-e Rustam Architecture

Naqsh-e Rustam rock cuts & reliefs

Each of the four buildings is square in appearance and mostly architectural ornamentation, but the facades have large entrance doors that are remarkably similar in detail. Sassanid kings wished to imitate the glory of the Achaemenid kings, so they have provided enormous facilities to the tomb. There is also different evidence to suggest that Necropolis was highly significant during the Elamite period. The destruction of the stone indicates that the place was near one of the political and religious capitals in ancient times as the monuments include different inscriptions which are cuneiform and lightly inscribed with a theme of praise to Ahura Mazda.

In the inscriptions, Darius I speaks of his victories and beliefs, besides the image of Xerxes’ battle with the Romans that is another impressive engraving there. In addition, the oldest inscription in Naqsh-e Rustam dates back to the time of Elam a thousand years ago. Although the relief is damaged, it depicts a blurry image of a man with an unusual scarf that appears to be Elamite. Alexander the Great, king of ancient Greece, conquered Persepolis, and his troops plundered the engravings of Naqsh-e Rustam.

Naqsh-e Rustam Achaemenid and Sassanid Tombs

Achaemenid Tombs

The tombs of the four Achaemenid kings of I, Darius the Great, Ardashir I, and Ardashir II are in the Naqsh-e Rustam. Each of the tombs contains 3 to 9 graves belonging to kings and their families. Each tomb is 19 meters wide and 93 meters long and is about 26 meters from the ground.

Tomb of Darius the Great (r. 522-486 BC)

The tomb of the third king of the Achaemenid Empire, Darius the Great, is the second tomb of Ardashir I in Naqsh-e Rustam, and the existing inscription belongs to the tomb of Darius the Great. According to research, Darius the Great began the construction of the burial mound at the same time as the construction of the Apadana Palace in Susa and Persepolis. During his reign, he did great works and made a name for himself as a wise person in the history of Mankind.

At the entrance to the tomb, some carvings bear a striking resemblance to the Thatcher Palace. Thatcher Palace was the residence of Darius I and his family. It seems that due to the belief that the Achaemenids had about the resurrection of the dead, they made the tomb look like the palace where the king lived so that he would not feel homeless after death. At the entrance of his tomb are two lithographs, a relic from his reign. There are significant points in these lithographs, representing information about the Achaemenid realm.

Inside the tomb, there are three chambers, each with three sepulchers which seem that have been buried here, in addition to the king, eight other very close relatives. Graves do not differ much in design or size, so it is hard to distinguish Darius I tomb from the rest of the graves. Erich Friedrich Schmidt, an American-German archaeologist, believes that Queen Atossa (mother of Xerxes, wife of Darius I, and daughter of Cyrus the Great) must have been in one of these tombs.


Tomb of Xerxes I (r. 465-485 BC)

The Xerxes I’s mausoleum has caved on the right side of the tomb of Darius I, at the easternmost point of the mountain that is the same in design and embellishment.

Xerxes I was Darius the Great’s son and the fifth imperial king of the Achaemenids that fought many battles during his reign. Eventually, a eunuch named Mitra and the head of the Royal Guard, Ardavan assassinated him in his dormitory.


The entrance to the burial mound is about 6 meters high. There is only one chamber with three tombs that are simpler than Darius I’s tomb. The middle tomb, which contains a large door, most likely belongs to Amestris (daughter of Hutton, Ardeshir I’s mother, and the wife of Xerxes I).


Tomb of Ardashir I (r. 465-424 BC)

The tomb of Ardeshir I is located on the left side of Darius I’s in the Naqsh-e Rustam. Ardeshir I was the son of Xerxes I, the fifth Achaemenid king, whose reign began with internal conflicts on the royal frontiers. He lived a royal life in his court after a short battle with Egypt and Greece, completing the magnificent palaces of Persepolis and Susa to finish his father’s works, Xerxes I.

Inside the tomb, it has been carved and holds three chambers in imitation of the tomb of Darius the Great. The distinction between it and the tomb of Darius is in the lack of geometric order and proportion in different parts. The place’s height is equal to 2 meters, the facade of which is cruciform. Damaspia (Ardeshir I’s wife, mother of Xerxes III) died immediately after the death of Ardashir I, and the third tomb probably belongs to the chosen successor after the king.Tomb of Darius II (r. 424-404 BC)

Darius II became the ninth Achaemenid King. Historical documents do not remind him as a good ruler for only two years; He is mentioned as a comfortable and domineering personality who contradicted the behavior of the Achaemenid kings. The tomb of Darius II in the westernmost point of Hossein Kuh is located right in front of the Cube of Zoroaster, where unfortunately is not clear due to severe damage to the king’s face engraving. The general view of the tomb is like the other cruciform tombs. The entrance with 280 cm of height was so carelessly excavated and is not similar to a rectangle. Inside the shrine, there are tombs in all three rooms. Undoubtedly, the middle grave belongs to Darius II and the other belongs to Queen Parysatis (daughter of Ardashir I, wife of Darius II), and speculation about the owner of the third tomb has been unsuccessful.

Sassanid carvings in Naqsh-e Rustam

The works of the Sassanid period in the Naqsh-e Rustam include multiple prominent carvings:

The First carving

The first relief of Naqsh-e Rustam is a section carved in the Sassanian, which was supposed to play a role in influential events of the Sasanian period.

The Second carving

On this carving, Nersi (the seventh Sasanian King) has carved his coronation and kingship on the stone of Naqsh-e-Rustam. The king removes the ribbon ring, the kingdom’s symbol, from Anahita.

The Third carving

In such prominent carving, Bahram II is fighting, and his spear is against the enemy whose spear is broken.

The Fourth carving

This relief is the most beautiful picture of the Sassanian victory.

The Fifth carving

In this relief, the rider with the crown throws his spear at the enemy, and they both have armor.

The Sixth carving

This engraving belongs to two different periods.

The Seventh carving

In this engraving, Ardashir is equal to Ahura Mazda.

Location of Naqsh-e Rustam

Naqsh-e-Rustam is a magnificent building on Hajiabad Mountain (Kuh-e Hajiabad) and one of the attractions of Zangiabad village in the north of Marvdasht city, located 6 km away from Persepolis; a symbol of the three periods of Elamite, Achaemenid, and Sassanid periods.

Where to eat near Naqsh-e Rustam

Persepolis Persian Restaurant

Persepolis Persian Restaurant is on the private road of Persepolis. The restaurant is a complete traditional place with an exquisite atmosphere and is suitable for family gatherings.

Sufi Restaurant

Sufi Restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in Shiraz, which serves a complete menu of Persian and French food in a lovely traditional environment with interior design in the style of the Zandieh era. Some say that the best Kalam Polo Shirazi (Cabbage and rice – traditional Shirazi food) is available in the Sufi restaurant.

Sharzeh Restaurant

Sharzeh is the oldest traditional restaurant in Shiraz with a memorable atmosphere; you can order tasty foods with hot fresh bread baked by the chef, enjoying live music while eating your food there.

Where to stay near Naqsh-e Rustam

Parsian 4* Hotel

Parsian 4* Hotel is another member of Parsian Hotels Group, located in the city centre with amenities and desirable services and is a good choice for tourists.

Darbary Hotel

The Darbary Hotel complex is in the heart of the historical and cultural context of the city. One of the considerable advantages of this 3* international hotel is the modern and up-to-date facilities in a traditional atmosphere.

Mah Monir Residence

Mah Monir Traditional Residence, the 120-year-old residence that dates back to the late Qajar and early Pahlavi eras, is considered an economy hotel in Shiraz.

Persepolis Tourism Complex

Persepolis Tourism Complex is one of the hotels with a history of providing tourism services. The complex is at 8 km of Marvdasht-Persepolis road, 72 km from Shiraz city.

Apadana Hotel

Apadana Hotel in Persepolis is a stunning building belonging to the second Pahlavi era, located 100 meters from the magnificent Persepolis. The edifice is in the middle of a garden that has provided a pleasant ambiance for visitors.

Chamran Grand Hotel

Shiraz Chamran Hotel or Chamran Grand is a 5* luxury hotel at the highest point in the most pleasant climate of the cultural and historical capital of Persia, Shiraz. The hotel overlooks Qasr Al-Dasht, giving you a unique view of Eram Garden and Hafez Tomb. Chamran Tourist Hotel complies with international quality standards, a variety of Persian, traditional, and Italian restaurants, and a coffee shop with live music, creating delightful memories of staying in a calm and friendly environment.

Zandieh 5* Hotel

The five-star Zandieh Hotel in Shiraz is in the Zandieh complex. The hotel is not far from the historical and cultural attractions of the city, such as the Karim Khan Zand complex and Pars Museum. The traditional Persian bath with impressive architecture is one of the most specific services that the guests of this hotel can enjoy.

Aghamir Resort

Aghamir Ecological Resort in Pasargad, Shiraz, with a history of 100 years, is located in the historical context of Saadat Shahr. The residence is a native house with brick walls and captivating and historical architecture from many years ago and is also active in promoting cosmic tourism (Astro-tourism).

By staying at Aghamir Ecological Resort, in addition to experiencing a simple life in a native house, you can also benefit from various programs of the place. Pasargadae and the joyful local music are other considerable activities of such a residence.

When to visit Naqsh-e Rustam

The best time to visit Shiraz in the spring is from March 10th to May 20th. As in this season, the climate of Shiraz is in the mildest possible state, and the orange blossoms of spring have adorned the city. Shiraz’s summer weather is hot versus autumn is a good time to visit the city; so you can plan a trip to Shiraz from early September to late December.

How to visit Naqsh-e Rustam

In Naqsh-e-Rostam, we visit the works of the Elamite, Achaemenid, and Sassanid periods. Valuable reliefs, each depicting a story of the victories and coronation of the famous kings of the Sassanid dynasty, for their audience. The rectangular cube building of the Zoroaster Kaaba of this complex, placed in the heart of the earth, has been silent for many years. The secret of the building’s function is still unknown and has left everyone confused.

* Remember to bring comfortable backpacks, walking shoes, sunglasses, masked hats for sunny days, and water bottles.

How to get to Naqsh-e Rustam

One of the most exciting types of visit Shiraz is traveling by car or bus since you have to pass through the historic and stunning cities of Persia on your trip, knowing Persia better than ever. If you are eager to travel by train, you can travel to Shiraz by purchasing a ticket. The fastest and easiest way to travel to Shiraz is by plane; there are daily flights from Tehran to Shiraz Shahid Dastgheib International Airport (SYZ).

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