The Bishapour Palaces were buried completely until they were excavated in late 1930s due to the effort of French archaeologists. Once they unearthed the ancient structure, the archaeologists found a cross-shaped central room connected with various halls of smaller size. But they found it extremely difficult to reconstruct and interpret the original design and structure of the ancient monument.
The ancient city was built near a river crossing and was located on the ancient road between Persis and Elam. Many international tourists visit this site located south of modern Faliyan region while they visit Iran. It takes one full day to drive to Bishapour from Shiraz and go back there.
History of the Place
Bishapour Palaces are part of the city by the same name founded by the second Sassanian king, Shapur. He used a Greco-Roman grid plan for building up the city with using the Roman soldier he captivated after defeating the Romans in battle. Along with the decorative monument, the city also contained a Zoroastrian water temple.
Both the city and structure started decaying after the Arab conquest of Persia. The palace garden is still believed to bear influence on the subsequently built later gardens after the advent of Islam in Iran.
The ancient city was built close to the river Shapur and a water temple was built over there for some group of people who believed in certain religion and tradition of respecting water. The rock-solid stone structure of the temple has helped it survive throughout the history. It is built lower than the level of the palaces so that it get closer to the level of the river.
After excavating Bishapour Palaces, the archaeologists were confused with the cross-shaped hall and the large dome covering the entire area. But these professionals concluded that the walls are not strong enough to provide support to a heavy and huge structure.
So, as per their reconstructed design the palaces consist of four half vaults in addition to an open square. They also found sixty-four niches each decorated with a different statue. So when you plan to visit Iran, you can see the unique ancient structure built using the Roman and Persian styles of architecture.
Use of Mosaic:
Several rooms in the Bishapour Palaces contain mosaics which was an art learned from Roman artists. There are also some designs and symbols similar to the Dionysiac mask which is not part of the Iranian tradition and culture and used only because of its appearance.
Many historians conclude that the mosaic is designed by the makers from the place called Antioch known for various mosaic designs and their makers. Most probably, these artists were captured by Shapur after the war and assigned to build and install the mosaics inside the Persian monument.
Sassanid era was an interesting time in terms of cultural exchange between Persians and Romans. Mithraism went to Rome from Persia and Roman arts were introduced to Persian empire.