We left Shiraz at about 5.30am and arrived at about 7am. The person at the entrance said it was a bit early, but let me in anyway. The site dates from 515BCE and construction was started by Darius the Great. Demolition was in 330BCE by Alexander the Great who was taking revenge for the Achaemenid attack on Athens.
From a sightseeing perspective this is a tricky site (IMHO). I found it quite difficult getting my bearings from the guidebook. In the end I took lots of photos and by cross-referencing with the pics taken by the University of Chicago’s 1930s excavation team (on the net and the most comprehensive I have come across) – I can now place most of the images.
As you walk around the site the key is to appreciate which of the halls you are in and how it relates to the others. Not always easy because the walls are missing. There are some modern contraptions dotted around the site (e.g. for a son et lumiere show) which create some clutter, but it’s a lot less obtrusive than what they’d need if this was more heavily visited.
The stonework is fairly well preserved and you do have to keep referring back to the guidebook in order to appreciate what the different figures signify. The local signage just tells you where you are and some of the background to each of the halls. Although the site was fairly empty, I felt secure enough to leave my camera bag lying around as I concentrated on taking picture.
After about an hour or so the ubiquitous parties of school kids began to arrive and by 9am (when I left) the first coach loads of European students were being given their intros to the site.
In the hill overlooking the palace complex are the Achaemenid tombs. There was not an obvious path that I could see, so it meant a long clamber over some tracks. You can’t see anything of the tombs themselves but the walls have carvings and you get a good view over the whole Persepolis complex. I took the shorter route back – but it was very steep.
There is also a museum attached to the Persepolis complex, but there’s not a lot there. Overall it’s easily worth the time and trouble getting there.