The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus- present Bodrum, Turkey. Here is how you can visit this Wonder of the Ancient World!
It is not often you get the chance to visit A Wonder of the Ancient World being that out of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’, only the Great Pyramids of Giza remain intact, and the other is The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Bodrum, Turkey.
So, when we were on a week’s holiday in Kos, Greece, we decided to take the 45-minute ferry to Bodrum in Turkey. We were pleasantly surprised by how nice the area was, and with only a handful of hours to explore, we will have to go back again, but we did manage to fit a lot in, from the markets to the port, to the ruins of an amphitheatre and of course The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
After the Great Pyramid of Giza, The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is the longest surviving Wonder, having stood for more than a millennium and a half. Therefore, the Mausoleum is one of the most well-known structures in the ancient world. This monument was ranked among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World not because of its size or majesty but because of the beauty of its appearance and the way it was decorated with sculptures and ornaments, it was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph.
The other Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are the Hanging Garden of Babylon, Colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Temple of Artemis, and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia
What was The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and what did it represent?
Halicarnassus was an important city of the kingdom of Caria, a kingdom which became independent under the governor Mausole for which the monument was built.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is a tomb for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, the City of Halicarnassus King, which was built in and around -350 BC . It appears the building was commenced by Mausole prior to his death. Mausole’s wife / sister Artemisia II of Caria, continued the build after his death until her own a few years later. The Mausoleum was built on top of a hill overlooking the city of Halicarnassus. It consisted of an enclosed platformed courtyard. Along the outer walls of the courtyard were statues of various gods and goddesses, whilst mounted stone warriors were stationed at each corner. At the centre of the platform was the Mausoleum itself. Whilst the building was constructed of bricks, it was covered with white Proconnesian marble, giving it a splendid look. The Mausoleum was approximately 45 m (148 ft) in height, and the four sides were adorned with sculptural reliefs. These relief represented various episodes of the governor's life or representative of the peculiarities of his time. The next part of the monument was a set of 36 Ionic columns. Between each column was a statue, and a solid block was constructed behind the columns to bear the bear the weight of the structure’s roof. This roof, which covered the final 1/3 of the building, was a step pyramid with 24 levels, topped with a sculpture of Mausolus and his wife/sister Artemisia riding a four-horsed chariot.
The structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene
What happened to The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus?
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus survived the conquest of Alexander the Great and outlived the dynasty for over a millennium. But during the 12th to 15th centuries, a series of earthquakes destroyed the structure until only the base of the structure was recognizable. By the end of the same century, and again in 1522, following rumours of a Turkish invasion, the Knights of St. John used the stones from the Mausoleum to fortify the walls of their castle in Bodrum (Bodrum Castle/ St Peter’s castle). Additionally, much of the remaining sculptures were ground into lime for plaster, though some of the best works were salvaged and mounted in Bodrum castle
What is it like now?
The location of the Mausoleum was subsequently lost and was only rediscovered during the 19th century by Charles Thomas Newton, who was working for the British Museum. Newton was successful in his quest, and managed to locate some walls, a staircase, and three of the corners of the foundation. In addition, Newton also discovered sections of reliefs that decorated the wall of the building, portions of the stepped roof, a broken chariot wheel from the sculpture on the roof, and two statues believed to have been in that chariot. These objects were then taken to London, where they are still on display in the British Museum, though the Turkish authorities are seeking to have them repatriated. They are the last remnants of a once spectacular monument that had the ancient world in awe.
The excavations are ongoing, but you will still get a feel of the history of the place and see some original structures and read description boards. The most you will see are the Ionic columns scattered around. But as you will see from our images, barely nothing remains of the original structure, you do have to use your imagination!
See below how you can visit the site!