Susa

Lying in the southwest of Khuzestan province, Susa is regarded as one of the oldest cities in the world with the antiquity of around 5000 BC where an ancient civilization was established by the Elamites with earlier settlements dating back to 7000 BC.

Being the principal city of the Elamite, Persian, and Parthian empires, this great city of ancient Persia is located between the modern Karkheh and Dez rivers, in one of the most fertile regions and on the historical royal road connecting Susa to other Empire cities.

As the political center of Elam in the 4th millennium, the city was conquered and rebuilt by the Persian King Cyrus the Great in 538 BCE and later became the Achaemenids’ fortified winter capital which was probably similar in magnificence to Persepolis and was expanded by the Persian King Darius the Great (549-486 BCE) who favored it over his other residences.

The awesome buildings constructed by Artaxerxes II in Susa including a vast archaeological site, the impressive audience hall (Apadana), and the amazing historical brick castle, together with the Tomb of Prophet Daniel (PBUH), and a bustling market draw the attention of domestic and foreign tourists. Here, the Biblical Book of Esther is said to have happened where King Xerxes threatened the Jews with genocide and Esther saved them.

The city has witnessed a plenty of vicissitudes from the time that a huge fire destroyed much of the city during the rule of King Artaxerxes I (465-424) and then it was rebuilt by King Artaxerxes II, regaining significance to becoming part of the Seleucid Empire following the Alexander the Great’s invasion. Finally, in the face of Mongol raids, Susa artifacts were transported to other countries and the city disappeared into the sands of time, only re-emerging after 1852 when the British and French archaeologists began excavating the site.

The glory of the city which was recently approved by UNESCO for inclusion on its World Heritage list has mentioned by ancient writers. Having written extensively on the Achaemenid Empire, the Greek historian Herodotus reported that Susa was the grand capital of the Persian Empire and the only capital he knew of.

For history lovers, visiting the splendid city of Susa which once outcompeted other Persian capitals namely Pasargadae, Persepolis, and Ecbatana in terms of popularity is indeed a long-lasting and never-fading memory.

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