The Sassanid era began in earnest in 228, when the Shah Ardashir I destroyed the Parthian Empire which had held sway over the region for centuries. He and his successors created a vast empire, based in Firouzabad, Fars, which included those lands of the old Achaemenid Persian empire east of the Euphrates River. The Sassanids wanted to re-create the longed-for ancient empire. Zoroastrianism was made the state religion, and all other faiths were persecuted. It was the shahs' long sought-after goal to reunify all of the old Achaemenid territory, and this brought them into frequent wars against the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire.
Shah Khosrau II (Kasrā in Arabic) fleetingly achieved this goal in a series of wars against the Byzantine Empire between 602 and 616, conquering Egypt, Syria and Palestine. However, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius turned the tide with a daring invasion of Persia itself. In 628, Khosrau was deposed with Heraclius' army at the gates of the capital of Ctesiphon. In the peace that followed, the Sassanids retreated to their traditional frontiers.
The long war exhausted both sides, and the Sassanids were soon destroyed by the rise of Islam.
The palace ruins of Ardashir I, founder of the dynasty, south of Shiraz, Iran.
The splendour in which the Sassanian monarchs lived is well illustrated by their surviving palaces, such as those at Firouzabad and Bishapur in Fars, and the capital city of Ctesiphon in Khvarvaran province, nowadays Iraq.
The Sassanian architect conceived his building in terms of masses and surfaces; hence the use of massive walls of brick decorated with molded or carved stucco.
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