Gate of All Nations

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Gate of All Nations (Persian: دروازه ملل) also known as the Gate of Xerxes, is located in the ruins of the ancient city of Persepolis, Iran. The construction of the Stairs of All Nations and the Gate of All Nations was ordered by the Achaemenid king Xerxes I (486-465 BCE), the successor of the founder of Persepolis, Darius I the Great.

See Subject Home > Middle East > Iran (Persia) > Persepolis > Gate of All Nations


The large stone doorway (illustration) allowed entry in to the broad mud block structure. A pair of massive bulls secured the western entrance; two Lamassu in the Assyrian style, albeit, of colossal proportions, stood at the eastern doorway. Also known as the Gate of Xerxes, located north of the Apadana, a broad stairway descends. Xerxes, who built this structure, named it “The Gate of All Countries,” for all visitors had to pass through this, the only entrance to the terrace, on their way to the Throne Hall to pay homage to the king.

Brief History

circa 450 BCE

This gate was not on Darius the Great's initial plan for Persepolis but was added by his son and successor, Xerxes. The initial main entrance of the palace complex was located on the south wall of the terrace supporting the palaces. Xerxes changed it, adding a monumental stairway on the west side leading to that gate upstairs. The function of the gate was not only to allow the entry of the visitors, but was also to separate the people according to their social importance.


circa 450 BCE

Dedicatory Inscription and Door Details
A pair of massive Lamassu (inspect) in the Assyrian style of colossal proportions, stood at the eastern doorway and two bulls secured the western entrance. Engraved above each of the four colossi is a trilingual inscription attesting to Xerxes having built and fulfilled the gate. Pivoting devices found on the inner corners of all the doors indicate that they must have had two-leaved doors, which were possibly made of wood and covered with sheets of ornamented metal. While the Assyrian lamassu expressed horror, those of Persepolis expressed meditative calm and humanity.

circa 450 BCE

This great entrance vestibule was the first building that a visitor reached arriving from the Grand Stairway. A pair of carved stone bulls overlooking the west portal stood guard and symbolized the strength of the empire. It was here that the delegates of all nations were greeted before they made their entrance into the interior.

In comparison to a reception hall, the Great Entrance Vestibule was more of an intersection at which the east-west axis connected to the Avenue of the Army which in turn led to the Gate of the Army and the Army Plaza. Through the south portal one passed into the entryway of the Apadana.

circa 450 BCE

Three of the four columns are well preserved and supported a 18.5 meters high roof. The columns are ionian stylized, erected on inversed bell shapes, their top consisted in stylized palm trees. The walls were decorated with 2 giant bulls on the west, and 2 giant lamassus (androcephalic winged bulls) on the east protecting the path. The gate carries also a royal trilingual Achaemenid cuneiform inscription by Xerxes.



Let's bring some history to your inbox

Signup for our monthly newsletter / online magazine.
No spam, we promise.

Privacy Policy