Ancient Abandoned Tombs of Naqsh-e Rostam in Iran, at Sunset

Naqsh-e Rostam - Near Shiraz, Iran

ere in Iran, the abandoned structures have been abandoned for some time. As in, many thousands of years. Outside of the city of Shiraz, in central Iran, lies the incredible series of tombs and artworks known as Naqsh-e Rostam. Construction of these tombs-of-Kings dates back some three thousand years ago. Naqsh-e Rostam is quite simply one of the most incredible abandoned sites I have seen in all my travels. It’s definitely the oldest abandoned building I’ve seen, taking the title by at least a millenium or two.

Again, as seems to be common with Iran, there were an incredibly small number of people visiting Naqsh-e Rostam on this day. Despite the 14 cents US entry fee (update: word is, this has increased to something like two dollars), there was myself, and perhaps five other visitors present during the time I explored and took photos of the abandoned Naqsh-e Rostam tombs.

Relief detail at Naqsh-e Rostam

Hazy afternoon at Naqsh-e Rostam, near Shiraz, Iran

Panorama of Naqsh-e Rostam

Naqsh-e Rostam – Necropolis of Kings

The series of tombs at Naqsh-e Rostam are all elaborately carved into the side of a stone mountain side. One can’t help but be amazed at the architectural feat of the builders that constructed the various tombs at. Although the photos go some way to showing the immense scale of these tombs, in real life, they take on a much more towering appearance.

Naqsh-e Rostam Taxi

Naqshe Rostam Artwork

View of Naqshe Rustam, near Shiraz, Iran

Historically, there was a river running at the base of the tombs of Naqsh-e Rostam. These days, the river has disappeared. The countryside is very dry. Clearly, the designers chose this location for its iconic and serene location – hill on one side, river on the other. However, a couple of millennia later, the entire area is almost a single colour of stone, adding to the surreal-ness of visiting these unique, and fairly unknown, monuments to former Kings.

Naqsh-e Rostam has five tombs, belonging to the Achaemenian Kings Darius 1, 2, and 3, as well as King Artaxerxes, and King Xerxes. Locally, the tombs are known as the Persian Crosses, as the shape of the hillside tombs is, well, a cross. Amongst the tombs, there are seven enormous relief’s chiselled into the mountain, depicting scenes of generally about victorious battles and day-to-day royal life of thousands of years ago.

Ka'ba-ye Zartosht - also located at the Naqsh-e Rustam area

Incredible Naqsh-e Rostam - Necropolis of Kings - note the man in the bottom right corner, for scale.

Tomb facade at Naqshe Rostam

How to Get to Naqsh-e Rostam, Shiraz, Iran

The Naqsh-e Rostam tombs are located near the city of Shiraz, in Central Iran. They’re around an hour or so by car from the centre of the city. If you do make it to Shiraz, you will easily be able to find a friendly local, or inexpensive taxi, to take you there. Naqsh-e Rostam isn’t far from the ancient abandoned city of Persepolis, you can cruise between the two in easy day trip from Shiraz. In October 2012, the current price is less than $15 US dollars, to hire a private taxi for most of the day (about 6 hours). The map above does not show the precise location of  Naqsh-e Rostam – it is pinpointed on the nearby city of Shiraz.

To read more about Naqsh-e Rostam, here is a link to the Wikipedia entry.

Depending on your nationality, getting a visa may be your hardest obstacle to overcome. Check out this article, it’s a great starting point – and the comments are adding more and more information on how to get a tourist visa to Iran.


Dr Hank Snaffler Jr.


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