As the Median Empire was overthrown by the Achaemenid king, Cyrus II in 550 B.C., Persians established their magnificent empire which covered from India to Egypt and from the Sea of Oman to the Caucasus Mountains at the time of Darius the Great. The capital of Achaemenids was located in present-day Fars province.  The prominent monuments of this era include Pasargadae, Persepolis, Naqsh-e-Rustam, etc. In Fars province, the palaces and inscriptions of Susa in Khuzestan province, the City of Dahan-e- Gholaman in Zabol, and the cosmopolitan Bistun Inscription.

The Achaemenids’ conquests provoked its neighbors’ greed, and eventually, the Aryan government of Achaemenids was overthrown by Alexander III of Macedon. Thenceforth, Greek invaders ruled over Iranian Plateau for years, and they ruled until Parthians (Arsacids) came to power in the east of Iran. They finally succeeded in defeating Seleucids. The peak of the wars between them occurred in the west of Iranian Plateau; the statue of Hercules in Bistun, as a reminder, is left from that time. Arsacid warriors never ceased to battle‌; they were always busy fighting on their horses. Hence, they left very few traces in history, like a few relief pieces in the west of Iran, several fire temples, and the Statue of Parthian Noble Man.

Defeating Arsacids, Sassanids ruled Iran for 427 years. As the last historical Iranian empire, Sassanids left valuable monuments all over Iran and other lands. Taq-wa-San in Kermanshah, Taq-e-Kasra in Iraq, the circular city of Ardeshir-Khore, the city of Gur, Qal’eh Dokhtar, the Palace of Ardashir-e Papakan (the Fire Temple of Fars), Tange Chogan, the City and Temple of Pishapur, the Sarvestan Palace, Naqsh-e Rajab, the inscription of Ardashir-e Papakan, Shapur I’s inscription at the Ka’ba-ye Zartosht, Farhad Tarash, the Palace of Khosrow in Bistun, Chahar-Qapi Fire Temple in Qasr-e-Shirin, Zij-e Manijeh in Sarpol-e Zahab, Yazdegerd III’s castle in Rijab, Azargoshnasp Fire Temple in Urmia, Borj-e Khamushan in Yazd, and Falak-ol-Aflak Castle in Khorramabad are among these monuments.

The Sassanid Empire was struggling with the Byzantine Empire and its internal chaos at the same time. Public discontent caused Iran to fail against the Arab Muslim invasion, and the country was conquered by Arabic nomads. Fire temples gradually turned into mosques; as case in point Abdullah-bin Umar Mosque in Rijab. Thenceforth, the Islamic Age began and continued for four centuries. The first two centuries passed in silence. After that, Iranians regained their power and took over the world of Islam. The main areas that the Iranian states ruled were in the east of Iranian Plateau or present-day Khorasan to Transoxiana. In this era, art became a main concern with focus on architecture, Qashani, pottery, glassery, and metalworking. Impressed by Islamic Mysticism (Iran), Persian literature and poetry progressively reached its peak. The major monuments of this era were perished with Genghis’ Mongol Invasion. Some of the remaining monuments from this era in present-day Iran are: Gonbad-e Qabus, Babak Fort, Alamut Castle, Deir-e Gachin Caravansarai, Tughrul Tower, the primal Imam Reza shrine, and several mosques like Tarikhaneh in Damghan, Jame of Isfahan, Na’in, Fahraj, etc.

Following the Mongol Invasion, the major accomplishments of the former era quickly perished. After a short dark age, once again, the decent children of Iran took over, and many different arts and crafts flourished. Many great monuments like the Great Dome of Soltaniyeh and Oljeitu’s altar, and Jame Mosque of Isfahan are left from this era.

With the fall of Mongol Empire and a chaos followed by it, Iran experienced the invasion of Timurids, the tyrant invaders who were finally affected by Iranian culture. Their rule resulted in the flourishment of several arts, namely Persian miniature and architecture. The building of the Turquise Mosque of Tabriz, Goharshad Mosque, and several caravansaries and the development of Imam Reza shrine are among the services of this dynasty.

Eventually, Timurids fell, and Iran was ruled by small local governments untill the powerful dynasty of Safavid took over. Giving strength to Shia Islam, They regained Iran’s magnificence. The important monuments from of this era include Shah (Imam) Square complex, Chehel Sotoun, Hasht Behesht Palace, the Holy Savior (Vank) Cathedral, bridges of Isfahan, countless bridges and caravansaries on the way to Karbala from Mashhad, and the development of Iranian bazaars, gardens, mosques, schools, bathhouses, etc.

Safavids were constantly struggling with their neighbors, so they lost some parts of Iran. They also had significant commercial transaction with Europeans, which, sometimes, led to the occupation, and some other times, to the retaking of some Iranian lands. The end of Safavids was the invasion of Afghans and the elimination of this powerful dynasty.

Afterwards, Nader Afshar freed Iran from Afghans, and then he pacified Iranian borders and established the rule of Afsharids. At the end of his rule, he Invaded India and gained a lot of loot. Khorshid Palace in Kalat is a relic monument from this warrior king. After the death of Nader, the rule of Afsharids weakened, and Iran immersed in chaos. It was here that Karim Khan Zand founded his government in Shiraz and repressed the opponents. He was the one who never called himself a king and did not have a crown. He called himself Vakil-e Ra’aya (Deputy of the People). Such valuable monuments as Arg of Karim Khan, Vakil Bazaar, Vakil Mosque, and Vakil Bathhouse are left from this Zand ruler.

The dispute between Zand and Qajar rules finally led to the establishment of Qajar government in Tehran. During this long era in which Iran’s power weakened, the city of Tehran developed; many Palaces like Golestan Palace and its linking complex, houses, bazaars, bathhouses, mosques, shrines, gardens, and schools were built in Tehran, and consequently big cities, many of which still stand. Defeat in the war with Russia, treaties with great powers, and the sack of lands and properties of Iran due to this treaties are among the important negative events happening in this era. In turn, however, Iranian Constitutional Revolution (Mashruteh) succeeded and became a prelude to democracy.

The whimsical Qajar kings weakened and were finally eliminated by a coup, and Reza Shah, the architect of modern Iran, seized power. In his era, cities, universities, schools, railroads, roads, bridge building, and the military developed uniquely and stepped towards modernity. These advances were expanded socially in the time of his son and finally led to the enlightenment of the society and Islamic Revolution of Iran. This revolution was an end to thousands of years of monarchy in Iran.