A panorama of the ruins at Persepolis


Persepolis, the palatial city whose construction was begun by Darius I, was the ceremonial and administrative capital of the Achaemenid Empire between c. 520 and 330 BCE when it was razed by Alexander the Great during his invasion of Persia. The ruins of Persepolis are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This view shows the ruined city from the west. The whole sits on a huge, 13-hectare terrace partially carved from the rock at the base of the Rahmat Mountain, seen in the background. Porter describes how over time several earthen mounds have formed around the base of the terrace walls. In the centre are the surviving columns of the Apadana, the great palace built by Darius I and, to the left, the piers of the monumental propylaea. The mounds to the right are the remains of the Tachara.

Full title:
A panorama of the ruins at Persepolis
June 1818
Watercolour / View
Sir Robert Ker Porter
© British Library
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Add. MS 14758, f.77

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Painting Persepolis

Article by:
Christopher Wright
Antiquarianism, Science and nature

Sir Robert Ker Porter's accounts of his travels in the Middle East gave a glimpse into a region that was largely unknown to most Europeans. His original watercolours provide a compelling visual source and are both descriptive of their settings and beautiful works of art in their own right. Christopher Wright recounts Porter's journey into an unfamiliar and enchanting landscape.

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