THE PERSIAN EMPIRE
At the height of civilisation, the administration of Persia was controlled from four different capitals. Established in strategic locations by a succession of kings. They were: Babylon, Susa, Ecbatana and Persepolis. The real influence of the Persians was evident in Persepolis, which was an unmatched capital of the Achaemenid Civilisation. It was known as the wealthiest city under the sun. The Achaemenids built on a grand scale. Their capital city Persepolis, was constructed on a raised podium as a ceremonial city, where the representatives of the thirty nations ruled by the Persian Empire gathered annually to celebrate a national festival. This is to concrete the loyalty of the subjects and enforce the unassailable power of the king. To heighten the impact of imperial influence, the parade to reach the throne, followed a long procession through the grounds of the palace city. The elevated terrace was ascended by a flight of palatial steps, designed to intimidate and humble the arriving dignitaries. Access to the complex was through the Gate of All Nations, framed by two bulls that reminded the guests they were approaching the heart of a supreme power.
Once inside, the crowds were split into two: state officials and noblemen were invited to the Hundred Columns Palace, while the gift-bearing ambassadors were ushered to the Great Audience Hall, or Apadana. Each delegation was accompanied by an escort around the opulent palace grounds. They were ushered up grand steps, down courtyards adorned by soaring columns, and through wooden doors covered with sheets of ornate metal. As one looked up, his gaze was swallowed by a forest of nineteen-metre-high fluted columns. Their plinth is topped by animal sculptures bearing two-headed bulls, lions and eagles. The weight of the stunningly decorative ceilings in the halls, were carried by oak and cedar beams imported from Lebanon. The sheer scale of the architecture was created to shock. But despite the showcase of muscle, Persia is one of the first examples of a superpower and global economy, that did not seek to impose its dominance on the nations it ruled. On the contrary, its rulers promoted friendship, supported high art and culture, and encouraged peace.