Bishapour to Shiraz

Part 4 of the Glories of Persia Travel Diary.

Posted 30th September 2014 by David McGuinness

Friday was to be our longest day, so we started very early, leaving the hotel at 7.15, and driving through the oil fields of Khuzestan, where many fires burned wastefully from natural gas so they could get to the oil below. Mehrdad, as always, gave us some local information about the province we were in, answering all our questions, and one of his gems of information was the Iranian expression: “if you see two cats fighting, one of them is British!”.

Iranians were all very aware of the Scottish referendum, which seemed to have caught their imagination, and was being covered in depth by Iranian news channels in English and Farsi.

We arrived into Bishapour around lunchtime and got out to explore the various sites here. First was Tang-e-Chogan, a series of sublime stone carvings showing Shapour’s victory over the Romans, including the capture of their Emperor Valerian, and the surrender of Philip the Arab, as well as subsequent investitures with the usual accompaniments of Azura Mazda, Anahita and Mithra.

As the carvings were made in limestone and a water channel was later created, there is a line across them where the water has eroded part of the carvings, though fortunately this was later diverted so the majority of the carvings were preserved and intact.

Across the river is the main city of Bishapour (the City of Shapour), also built by the captured Roman soldiers. The city walls were 6m high and the Central Palace was a blend of Persian and Roman styles. Some of the original stucco, with even a little colour can still be seen. The second hall was where numerous mosaics were found. In the middle of the site is the Anahita Temple, underneath the rest of the city it is a square building which would have contained water in tribute to Anahita.

The square is surrounded by corridors and aqueducts. There is also a 14th Century Mosque which was built not long before the devastating earthquake which destroyed the city, and said city was abandoned as people moved to the nearby town of Kasarum. We drove on from Bishapour to Shiraz and arrived tired but satisfied and happy to be spending the next few nights in the same spot.

This blog is part of an Off-The-Beaten-Track Travel Diary. Click on the links below to navigate through this journey.

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