The Apadana

(or Audience Hall) was the first building constructed and is the most important on the terrace of Persepolis . It stood architecturally and in the sense of urban planning as the hub of the terrace. It is an architectural wonder of the ancient world - its clever construction enabled dimensions without comparison in its time. The 20 meter (65,5 ft) high columns were the tallest and thinnest that architects had mastered - and construction-wise, it was a clever feat. In many respects its construction was a masterpiece of architecture. The architects of Darius had the courage to raise the height of the columns 1.5 meters (4,9ft) higher than those of the Temple of Artemisia at Ephesus and to refine the tapering of the diameter to 1:12. The distance between the columns , in comparison to the 5.9 meters (19,4ft) at the Temple of Artemisia, was stretched to an astounding 8.65 meters (28,4 ft). This unique wide-spacing resulted in a festive spacious atmosphere in the Apadana. The effect of which was only possible by combining stone columns and wood ceiling beams , instead of the traditional all-stone construction. It is possible that this construction was a mixture of the Iranian master builders , whose wooden architecture had long been familiar, and Asia Minor architecture, with its much used narrow stone columns .

Darius brought his stonemasons from Ionia and Sardes , and we know that the sculptor Telephanes of Phokis worked on the courts of Darius and Xerxes . Yet, we find already in Cyrus the Great's City of Pasargad, a great concern for quality of work that was set forth in Persepolis .

The palaces of Cyrus the Great (555-530 B.C.) served as a model for the Apadana of Persepolis and Susa. However, the Apadana shows decided innovation. In the city of Pasargad, the height of the porticos are approximately one-third the height of the building; whereas at Persepolis , the porticos are as high as the building. The western portico sat over the 15 meter (49 ft) supporting wall of the terrace and its 12 columns were visible from the level of the Marv-Dasht. At twilight, the white-painted columns and the perhaps gold-toned roof caps must have produced an unforgettable memory for the travellers as they neared the city. Professor Heidemarie Koch wrote in her book, Persepolis , die glänzende Hauptstadt des Perserreichs , "This idea of visual impact from a distance, first observed in Persepolis , was later adopted by the Greek temples -- for example the Acropolis in Athens or in Asia Minor. … It therefore must have been an idea of Darius or his architects ."

The beauty of the Apadana lies in its size and proportions - as illustrated by Leo Trümpelmann in his book, Persepolis , ein Weltwunder der Antike, and also in its detailed and carefully executed stone reliefs which narrated the political programs of King Darius , thus characterizing the building as that of a public building. Both Friedrich Krefter in Persepolis -Rekonstruktionen and Professor Heidemarie Koch in Persepolis , die glänzende Hauptstadt des Perserreichs wrote in great detail about the politically themed reliefs on the stairs of the Apadana. A detailed record of the reliefs can also be found in Erich Schmidt's book, Persepolis I. A visitor would have found himself amongst the depictions of the stair reliefs - in which all races found within the empire were present. The Apadana was built for these people and their representation within the complex symbolized their protection under the rule of a fair and just emperor. They must have been overcome with astonishment, pride and reverence as they gazed upon this aesthetical and technical wonder.

  Gate of All Nations
  Plaza of Army
  Gate of Kings

  Hall of Army
  Banquet Gate
  Hall of Nations
  Harem West Wing
  Harem Main Wing
  Royal Treasury
  Terrace Wall
  Tomb I
  Tomb II
  Southern Area

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friedrich krefter
nouruz 2005