Persian Empire, also known as the Achaemenid Empire, was one of the most important civilizations of the history who ruled between 6th and 4th centuries BC. It was the successor state of the Median Empire and founded by Cyrus the Great around 550 BC. The official language of the empire was Aramaic, and their capital cities were Persepolis, Susa, Pasargadae, and Ecbatana. The empire was divided into several satrapies, forming a successful model for centralized administration who worked to the profit of all its people.
Besides capturing Babylonia, Phoenicia and Armenia, Persians expanded their empire towards west to Hellas and entered in Asia Minor around 546 BC when Cyrus defeated the Lydian king Croesus in Sardis, the capital of Lydia. After this victory, Persians ruled in Asia Minor for about 200 years until the arrival of Alexander the Great around 334 BC. During their rule, Asia Minor was divided into small states and a satrap was appointed to each of these states. These satraps were rappresentatives of the Persian king and they ruled their states with tollerance and benevolence , collected taxes, built the infrastructure, and so on. Persians had two important satrapy centers in Asia Minor: Sardis in Lydia and Daskyleion in the southeast of Manyas lake.
Persians built the "Great Royal Road", which was connecting East to the West. The road started from Ephesus, passed through Sardis, then from Gordion and Ankara, over Kizilirmak river and from Cappadocia to Cilicia, passing from Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and finally from Assyria to Susa, the capital of Persia. The voyage took about 3 months. There were places to overnight along the route and also several post stations. At each post station horses and postmen have changed so they could pass the message from one station to the other one.
After capturing Sardis and the rest of Anatolia, Persians advanced towards Hellas and destroyed Athens, but they lost the naval battle of Salamis in 480 BC and the Platea war in 479 BC so they had to retreat back to Asia Minor again.
Some of the Important Persian Kings
Cyrus the Great: Also known as Cyrus II or Keyhusrev the Great. He defeated the Median king Astyages around 550 BC and made it the capital of the new Persian Empire under the Achaemenid Empire, and united two separate Persian states, reigning between 550 - 530 BC. In 546 BC he defeated Lydian king Croesus and captured western Anatolia, including smaller Greek city-states in Asia Minor. In 539 BC he captured Babylonia and Palestine, controlling a great part of the Middle East. He created the first Declaration of Human Rights in the history (around 538 BC) which was known as the "Cyrus Cylinder". The Cyrus Cylinder is a 23 centimeters long and 11 centimeters wide cylinder made of clay. It was written in Accadian cuneiform writing with more than 40 lines, where the king mentions about the rights and freedom of Babillonian slaves, about his victories and merciful laws, and his royal ancestors. The cylinder was discovered in 1879 in the modern-day Iraq and is on display at the British Museum in London. A copy of this cylinder is at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA.
Darius the Great: Known as Darius I, he was the third Achaemenian King and reigned between 521 - 486 BC. He extended his empire in all directions, from Indus valley in the east to Thrace and Macedonia to the west, and towards Saka tribes in the north, becoming one of the greatest powers in the world of his times. He also centralized administration of his empire, made legal reforms, issued code of laws, developed juridical systems, favored cultural and artistic activity and so on.
Xerxes the Great: Known as Xerxes I, the son of Darius I the Great. He ruled between 486 - 465 BC. In 484 BC his army crossed Hellespont from Asia to Europe on a pontoon bridge made of wooden boats during his campagin against Greeks. Herodotus mentiones that he had over two million soldiers in his army with at least 10,000 elite warriors who were called as the "Immortal Band".