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Bishapur (or Bishâpûr) is an ancient city situated south of modern Faliyan, Iran on the ancient road between Persis and Elam. The road linked the Sassanid capitals Istakhr (very close to Persepolis) and Ctesiphon.

Bishapur was built near a river crossing and at the same site there is also a fort with rock-cut reservoirs and a river valley with six Sassanid rock reliefs.

History

According to an inscription, the city itself was founded in 266 by Shapur I (241-272), who was the second Sassanid king, restored the borders of the empire to where they had been in the Achaemenid Persian period, inflicting a triple defeat on the Romans. In his native province of Fars, he built a new capital that would measure up to his ambitions: Bishapur, Shapur's City. The city was not laid out in the circular design inherited from the Parthians, but followed the grid (Hippodamian) plan used by the Greeks. Outside the city, Shapur decorated the sides of the Bishapur River gorge with huge historical reliefs commemorating his triple triumph over Rome. One of these reliefs, in a semicircular shape, has rows of registers with files of soldiers and horses, in a deliberate imitation of the narrative scenes on the Trajan column in Rome. At Bishapur the king also inaugurated the Sassanid imagery of the king's investiture, which would be copied by his successors: the king and the god are face to face, often on horseback, and the god - usually Ahura Mazda - is holding the royal diadem out to the sovereign.

The city was built by Roman soldiers who had been captured after Valerian I's defeat in 260. However, it was not a completely new settlement: archaeologists have found remains from the Parthian and Elamite ages.

The city remained important until the Arabian invasions and the rise of Islam in the second quarter of the 7th century. There were still people living there in the 10th century.

 Sumptuous decoration


The main part of the excavations took place in the royal sector, in the east of the city. A fire altar, sometimes interpreted as a shrine to Anahita, was erected near the palace. In the center there is a cross-shaped space with eight large square exedrae decorated with 64 alcoves. The French excavators believed it had been covered with a dome roof, but this reconstruction has been rejected. To the west lies a courtyard decorated with mosaics; to the east, a square iwan used as a reception room. Its walls must have been covered with small stucco ornaments: rows of medallions, bands of foliage, and topped with merlons inherited from Achaemenid architecture. All these decorative techniques were still used after the Islamic conquest of Iran. The floor was paved with black marble slabs, with a mosaic border. Along the walls runs a narrow band featuring a series of heads and masks, in a frontal or profile view, on a white background. At the top of each alcove there was a picture of women naked under their transparent veils: courtesans, musicians, dancers, women twisting garlands, together with a few richly attired noble ladies.

testimonials


Iran was incredibly welcoming to a 21 year old American woman - I hope I can come back and experience it again! I can't pick one, although I think Uppersia and Nadia picked some great activities for my time there. I really enjoyed Persepolis and the square in Isfahan.
Michelle
Where do I start? The whole trip was a highlight! Shahdad and Bayazed stick in my mind. Food was fantastic everywhere! I don't think I had a bad meal the whole trip. Highlights were Tehran, Isfahan, .... just about ever dinner was a highlight.
Andrew
We wanted to travel with an Iranian company because we felt that would have more expertise in every way. Uppersia was highly recommended in the Lonely Planet guide. We also wanted more of our money to go to benefit Iran directly, rather than a UK travel company. For the same reason we chose to fly Iran Air.
Katharine
THANK YOU so much for all the planning and effort put into our trip to make it so wonderful. We cannot say enough good things about Narjes, Iman,and about our whole experience. We have told several friends, and I think a couple of them are serious about making the journey. We have told them Uppersia is the way to go!
Todd
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