Statue of Shapur I, the 1,700 Year Old Masterpiece Deep in Shapur Cave, Iran

Statue of Shapur I, the 1,700 Year Old Masterpiece Deep in Shapur Cave, Iran

Visiting the amazing Statue of Shapur of 1,700 years hidden in cave isn’t just something we can forget about mentioning to travelers and tourists; the masterpiece from the Sassanid Era is the only one of its kind to remain standing at a staggering 7 meters tall!

Upon standing before the giant, one of the first questions that come to mind is: was this brought or made here?! Upon closer inspection, visitors will come to realize that the huge statue was carved right out of a solid stone column!

The Shapur Cave is located 30 km north of Kazeun City at the end of Chugan Straight, just 4 km away from Bishapur City – the most iconic dynastic capital of the Sassanid Era. It’s perched up 800 meters from the ground and has a 30 meter wide entrance.

The colossal Statue of Shapur figure is located just a few steps from the entrance and is where the Shapur Cave gets its name. Come along with goingIRAN to see and discover more about this giant ancient artifact of Iranian culture!

The 1,700 Year Old Shapur Statue
The 1,700 Year Old Shapur Statue

Introducing the Sassanid’s Shapur I

Shapur I was the son of Ardeshir I Babakan – the mighty Persian founder of the influential Sassanid Dynasty. He had a long rule of Persia, reigning from 215 – 272 AD.

After his father’s demise, Shapur I set out to increase the Sassanid dominance to what it was during the time of Darius I. Although having many successes, he was never able to reach the enormous span of influence that the Achaemenid Darius once had.

One of the most distinguished achievements of Shapur I was his successes in the wars against ancient Rome. His most notable triumph was the Battle of Edessa in 260 AD, when Shapur and the veteran Persian army won reign over the Roman Empire and captured the entire army!

Throughout the centuries of wars between the Persian and Roman Empires, this was the only incident of its kind. In order to celebrate the enormous victory, Shapur I ordered for many bas relief carvings to be made in the Fars Province, depicting the epic events for future generations.

Statue of Shapur
Statue of Shapur

Features of the Colossal Statue of Shapur

The precise height of the gigantic Statue of Shapur is 6.7 meters with a shoulder-width of 2 meters. Without a doubt, the amazing sculpture is one of the most revered masterpieces left over from the Sassanid Era. It is referred to as an exceptionally rare work of ancient art, among scholars of the Near East.

The Statue of Shapur is located on the fourth terrace just 35 meters into the mouth of cave. It should be noted that its current location now isn’t where it was, originally.

From a visual perspective, every angle of the exceptional stone-statue has been very delicately and meticulously crafted. Due its fine detail and craftsmanship, it is believed that the sculptor must have used a visual aid to achieve such precision. Something such as a smaller version made from plaster or clay.

In its current state, the head and face of the Statue of Shapur remain completely intact; however, both of the poor guy’s arms have been broken off. For many years the statue laid over-turned and fallen to the ground.

It was only in 1957, with the help of the Fars Province military, that it was brought up and restored to its upright position. It was at that time that the damage legs were reinforced with concrete and restored, allowing Shapur I to stand once again.


The Cave’s Ancient Inscriptions

At the entrance of Shapur Cave are some stone inscriptions. One of them is the translation of Shapur I’s inscription about Naqsh-e Rajab and the other is about technique of the statues resurrection, in 1957, after 1,000 years.

It has been explained how aside from the resurrection of the statue, roads and paths were built for easier access of automobiles. These new roads allowed tourists and travelers to reach the cave, starting from the Shapur River.

It also states how the project was also responsible for the creation of some 230 steps carved out by the hands of the Fars province military and their helpers. It is stated that the entire project was facilitated and paid for by over 200 people!


Reaching the Giant Statue of Shapur 

From the cave’s opening, a breathtaking view of a green valley appears… Connecting the valley to the mountain of the Shapur Cave is a small rural village, appropriately named Shapur Village.

Heading towards the cave from the village, there’s only about 400 meters than can be travelled by car and maybe just another 600 meters with an off-road vehicle. After that, everybody’s walking!

From the last drivable place, it’s about 2,400 meters to finally reach the cave. The entire way up to cave is an uphill hike, but the existence of dugout, as well as, concrete stairs makes it a bit easier.

The trek takes an average of one hour, but all of you athletes and pro-hikers can try to beat 45 minutes! There are no shortcuts to any place worth going, right?

A little fun fact we’d like to leave with about the massive Shapur cave is that no one has ever reached the end of it. So if you’re looking for a challenge and an adventure… you know where to look!

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