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The principal palaces of the Persian kings were at Susa, the ancient capital of Elam near the Persian Gulf, and Persepolis, the summer capital located in the north. The original capital founded by Cyrus the Great was Pasargadae.

Susa:Darius built a magnificent palace here. Workers were brought from all over the empire to build and decorate it, including Ionian Greeks.

Pasargadae: Not much remains today of this site which is near Persepolis. There was a palace with extensive irregated gardens. In the time of Xerxes, it had a mostly ceremonial significance. The investiture of Persian kings was held here.

Persepolis: Darius started building the magnificent palace at this site about 515 B.C. It was the administrative center of the empire and the focus of great festivals. Xerxes built extensively at Persepolis including a grand double stairway, a massive gateway "of all lands,"and a roofed audience hall for 10,000 people. This splendid palace complex was burned by Alexander the Great after he conquered the Persian Empire. Today the ruins remain one of the most beautiful places in the world.

reconstruction of Persepolis

nobles on staircase at Persepolis