The Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region, is a complex of eight ancient architectural masterpieces located in three archaeological sites of Firuzabad, Bishapour, and Sarvestan, in the southeast and southwest of Fars Province. The Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region including two ancient cities, eight bas reliefs, a fortress and two palaces was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018. These constructions, palaces and ancient cities are related to the early and late Sassanid Empire from 224 to 658 BC.
Fars region during the Sassanid Empire
According to the archaeological studies, the Fars region was an important and strategical area during the 400 years of Sassanid Empire kingdom and is home to more than 3000 heritages and legacies left from this dynasty, that reflect different aspects of the history of Iran during the Sassanid Empire, which was a heyday amid the Achaemenid and Parthian period and the big cultural and political changes during early Islamic Era in Iran. The most significant heritage of the Sassanid era left in Fars region which is a joint between ancient and Islamic-Iranian architecture is the very first dome which was constructed in Firuzabad town. The eightfold heritages of Fars which are inscribed by the UNESCO are not only outstanding in terms of historical value, but also in other terms like urban engineering, architectural design and decoration. Although the footsteps of Roman and Greek art are recognizable in Bishapour city, the Sassanid landscape of Fars Region exhibits the originality and creativity of Sassanid art. The architectural style of Sassanid Era is characterized with the technique of constructing iwans, building domes on top of structures with square plans, and using materials like adobe, rubble stone, and Sarooj (water-resistant mortar). Also stone carving, which was practiced in Iran since Elamite and Achaemenid eras to show the glory of kingdoms, reached its peak during the Sassanid Dynasty. The Sassanids used this art to narrate the important historical incidents like the victories and coronations of the kings.
The eight heritages of the Sassanid Landscape of Fars Region
Below we have introduced the eight of the Sassanid archaeological heritages which are spread in southeast and southwest of Fars Province, and was constructed by the order of different kings like Ardeshir Babakan and Shapour I who stood against the Romans and defeated them.
The Kingdom of Ardeshir Babakan Bas relief
This ancient bas relief is related to Ardeshir Babakan (Ardeshir I 180 AD- 242 SD), the founder of Sassanid Empire and is located in Firuzabad Town. This bas relief shows the king standing in front of Ahura Mazda (the highest deity in Zoroastrianism) and receiving the ring of power and becoming the king of Persia. Prince Shapour and two other sons of the king are standing behind Ardeshir Babakan.
The Victory of Ardeshir Babakan Bas relief
This Sassanid bas relief which was created in 224 BC. shows the victorious battle scene of Ardeshir Babakan and Artabanus IV of the Parthian Empire. With 18 meters’ length and 4 meters’ height, this is the largest relief left in Iran which is located over a large rock by the Firuzabad River around Firuzabad town.
Shapour Cave is situated 800 meters above the ground level at the heart of a mountain in Chogan Gorge 25 kilometres away from the ancient city of Bishapour. This mysterious cave is 30 meters in diameter and is titles the “Shapour Cave” because of the ancient and immense statue of Shapour at its entrance. This statue which is well-preserved after 1700 years around 7 meters high and shows amazing details of the hair, the costumes and the anatomy of the king. The statue which is carved out of a huge stalagmite, was reconstructed during the Pahlavi Dynasty. The cave itself is also an amazing geological phenomena which amazes visitors and visiting it requires 2 hours of mountain trekking.
Shapour Cave - Fars, Iran
Shahr-e Gour, also known as Gour city and Ardeshir Khoreh, was founded by the order of Ardeshir Babakan during the 3rd century BC, 3 kilometers away from the current Firuzabad Town. This city, which is abandoned today, was an important governmental center during the Sassanid Era. This city was the very first city in Iran which was based on a round plan and it had four main entrance gates, governmental monuments, and residential buildings for the authorities and rulers.
Shahr-e Gour (Ardeshir Khoreh)
Ardeshir Babakan Palace
This palace is located in the north side of the ancient city of Bishapour near Kazerun Town, and is a stone made construction built with large rubble stones. Although we don’t know the exact use of the palace, according to Girshman, this palace was built by the order of Shapour I for the accommodation of Valerian the Roman Emperor, who was defeated by Iran’s army, while he was bondaged in Iran.
Dokhtar Castle in Firuzabad
Ghale Dokhtal or DOkhtar Castle is located near Firuzabad Town on the skirts of a mountain 300 meters above the ground. It is believed that this castle was built by Ardeshir during the last days of Parthian Empire while he hadn’t still overcome Artabanus IV, to control and protect the area against the Parthian army. This great castle built by rubble stone and plaster is 2000 meters in square and consists of three arts built in different levels. The last section has a large dome located on top the large hall with a square plan. This monument has plaster work that resemble the decorations in Persepolis, nested rooms and corridors, central courtyard, and spiral stairways which are dug into the rock.
Dokhtar Castle - Fars, Iran
Located 9 kilometers away from Sarvestan town in the southeast of Fars Province, Sarvestan Palace complex is a 25 hectares’ area which was constructed during the kingdom of Bahram V (Bahram Gor). This Palace was built by rubble stone and plaster and has an iwan with square plan and a courtyard covered with a large dome. This palace which is related to late Sassanid Era, has a more complicated architectural design and techniques like columns that support the ceilings, and the very first dome made with bricks.
Sarvestan Palace - Fars, Iran
The ancient city of Bishapour is located by KAzerun Town in the southwest of Fars Province. This city was built in 266 BC by the order of Shapour I who wanted a new glorious city on the way between Persepolis and Ctesiphon after he overcame Valerian the Roman Emperor. This city shows the combination of Iranian and Roman architecture style and includes different parts like the Anahita Temple, the Ceremonial Hall, the Memorial Columns, etc. This city was resided until the 7th century and then got abandoned and ruined.
Tang-e Chogan Tange Chogan Gorge is located by the ancient city of Bishapour, is a collection of six Sassanid bas reliefs including the victory of Shapour, the victory of Bahram II, the coronation of Bahram I, etc.