Map Code: Ax02459

The Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great had a number of capitals, in part, because the Achaemenids rotated their court between regional centres according to the season, but also because certain locations became functionally specialized. Ecbatana was the favoured summer residence, Susa for Spring, while Babylon was the commercial hub of the empire. Cyrus founded Pasargardae as a purpose-built capital in his home region, but for future rulers it was used as a coronation venue. Persepolis was founded by Darius the Great in c. 515 BCE, but was too remote to serve as an effective site of government: its main functions appear to be ceremonial and recreational. Designed to impress, the site encompassed the grand Apadana Palace, the colossal Gate of All Nations, the Imperial Treasury, a Throne Hall, and, over time, a number of royal tombs. In 330 BCE, Alexander the Great climaxed his whirlwind invasion of Persia by capturing Persepolis and burning it to the ground: fitting revenge for the earlier razing of Athens by the Persian king Xerxes I.

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