The article “Apadana–The Everlasting Hall of the Achaemenids” written by Aleksa Vučković was originally posted in Ancient Origins on September 29, 2019. Kindly note that the version published below has been slightly edited and that none of the images and accompanying captions printed below appear in the original Ancient Origins posting.
Throughout countless centuries, across all kinds of different epochs, the great hypostyle hall of Apadana has been an impressive source of wonder and inspiration for all manner of folk. This once magnificent structure, and even its meager remains, has stood as a testament to the grandiose construction capabilities of ancient peoples. It is a heritage of the ancient Persian kings of the Achaemenid Empire, a powerful proof of the supremacy and wealth they once possessed.
The Apadana, the largest and most magnificent building of Persepolis located on the western side of the platform. It was begun by Darius and finished by Xerxes, and was used mainly for great receptions by the kings (Courtesy of: Following Hadrian Photography).
And what remains of it today is sufficient inspiration for us to give you a thorough retelling of its long and troubled history. We shall dust off the ancient pillars and the faded carvings, revealing the slumbering intricacy beneath. History sleeps in the Apadana – and it is time to rouse it!
The Culmination of Power: How the Apadana Came to Be
The old Persian word Apadāna was for a long time used to denote any audience hall of the time. But when Darius the Great (r. 522–486 BCE), king of kings, began constructing his marvelous design of the great audience hall of Persepolis, and when Xerxes the First finally finished it, the word apadāna gradually shifted its meaning.
This new magnificent building that arose in Persepolis, south of the Gate of All Lands, was the great audience hall of the Achaemenid king. And it was so stunningly elaborate, so intricate and advanced, that the word apadāna was used only for this single hall – all others did not deserve the title.