Friday, March 25, 2016

[MARVDASHT] The Ruins of Persepolis

I could have chosen a better time to go to Persepolis. I mean, who chooses a national holiday to contend for a selfie spot in a popular tourist destination like this, right? But this Iran trip has been badly planned from the very beginning anyway. So what’s the use in complaining, really? I guess I just found it a bit surprising because almost every blog entry I’ve read about the place said that it’s almost always empty. But then again, they probably didn’t go on a national holiday, now did they?

Well, Persepolis almost didn’t happen! Remember that this is still part of the Cashless in Iran series. I survived in Shiraz thanks to PayPal, which also made Persepolis possible. So thanks a lot, PayPal. Just when I thought I no longer had any use for you, all of a sudden here you are to the rescue. Going to Persepolis can be cheap or expensive depending on the research you put in before you leave. So how did I go about it? The first place you have to find is the minibus station going to Marvdasht.

Depending on your haggling skills, the taxi to that station coming from wherever it is that you are staying in Shiraz could go up to IRR 100,000 (~PHP 150) which is actually still cheap. Ah yes, I remember now. The name of the terminal is Kirandish. Once you arrive, just tell them Marvdasht or Persepolis and they will direct you to the correct minivan. The one-hour trip is really affordable at just IRR 30,000 (~PHP 45). Start looking for other foreigners inside the van so you can share a taxi to the site later.

As for me, I only found out that there was another foreigner, a Swiss grandpa, when I got off. Make sure you inform the driver you are going to Persepolis so he can drop you off at a certain intersection leading to the ruins. Once there, you are most likely to find a cab waiting for passengers going to the site. A typical taxi ride costs IRR 100,000, so it can be really cheap if there are four of you. Taxi drivers here do not use the meter at all, so negotiate beforehand.

What welcomed us was a throng of people as if there was a pilgrimage of sorts happening. As I said, it was a national holiday, and around 95% of the tourists there that day were locals. I suggest going there on an ordinary weekday if you want the place all to yourself. I just didn’t have any extra days left. I could have gone on my first day in Iran but I still had to resolve that whole cashless in Shiraz fiasco. So fine, I just made the most of what I had.

If you are interested in ancient civilizations, you will definitely enjoy this trip. I plan on taking a second degree in Assyriology in the future, and seeing the cuneiform writings engraved in clay and preserved through how many thousands of years really served as a great motivation. If only there weren’t too many bureaucratic, financial, and linguistic hurdles, I’d so enroll right this year. But let’s not bite off more than we can chew, what with Latin and Ancient Greek still in progress. One dead language at a time!

The admission fee was IRR 200,000 (~PHP 300) for foreigners, which is not really expensive, although it did seem so given my predicament. But Persepolis is the main agenda of this trip! It was worth it. Getting the ticket was an experience in itself because the locals didn’t want to fall in line. Come on, dudes, you already get a hefty discount. Is it that difficult to be orderly? Or maybe they are all just excited? Anyway, the signboards said that the place closes at 5 PM. It was already 4:15 PM when I got in.

Sightseeing ended at 6 PM for me, yet there were still a lot of people getting in by the time I went out. Now I’m not really sure if this is always the case. I suggest going in the morning so you can maximize your time. There's a museum inside the premises but you have to pay again. Since I was strapped for cash, I decided not to do it anymore. If I end up as an Assyriology student, I’m pretty sure I’d find myself back there anyway. For now, survival is my priority.

I wasn’t able to take a good selfie at the Gate of All Nations because everyone was there! However, I was able to go up the hills and see the entrance to the tombs, two of them identical and located on opposite sides. Info is not scarce but all in Farsi. You might want to consult Wikipedia before you go. Those two tombs are said to belong to Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III. Of course, you can’t enter, though I can only imagine how fun it would be if you could!

The hills are also perfect vantage points for an aerial photo of the ruins down below. Just be careful because there are no clear cut pathways and the hills are rather steep. Finding shade is not that easy, although I think you can rest in front of one of the tombs’ entrance. If not, then head down to the ruins and take all the photos you need to end your trip. If you are looking for the cuneiform inscriptions, they are to the east of the columns at the ruins of Tachara.

[MARVDASHT] The Ruins of Persepolis

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