The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

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The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the most beautiful tombs of antiquity.

Halicarnassus (now Bodrum), is a city in Asia Minor which was refounded by Mausolus (353-377 BC), a satrap of the Persian Empire that, while it challenged in the revolt of the priests along with other leaders of the region, knew also return to «order» as Artaxerxes III regained control of the situation and it got ugly for the insurgents.

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Photography by bazylek100

Mausolus was the son of Hecatomnus, an aristocrat who had obtained in the year 392 BC the satrap of Caria (southwestern Turkey today) at the hands of Artaxerxes II. Little is known of the youth of Mausolus, but is pretty sure he met the Spartan king Agesilaus II.


Photography by HBarrison

360 BC shortly after order was restored, and when Artaxerxes III succeeded his father in the spring of 358 BC, had nothing to fear because of the satraps. Chose to ignore the behavior of Mausolus, who had spent wisely to be the last to join the rebellion (conquering part of Lydia, Ionia and neighboring islands) to the first to change sides again betraying his allies (which was rewarded with the annexation of part of Lycia). And although Mausolo had to accept the presence of a Persian garrison at Halicarnassus, acted more or less independent governor, why he called King in some sources.

Mausolo then was the most prominent leader of the satrap of Caria, and at that time it was customary for the founder of a city received top honors and a grave in the central square. After the death of Mausolus, in 353 BC, his wife Artemisia succeeded him in the government and invited the best artists to build the tomb of her late husband.


Photography by skl8em

The result was nothing short of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon cataloged them. The building was designed by renowned architects and Pittheus Satiro, inspired by traditional Greek architecture. While the mausoleum was built with bricks, they were covered with white marble Proconesia Islands (Sea of Marmara), with a splendid finish. The impressive monument posthumously made famous in his time and was copied many times. It is very likely that the architecture of the tomb of Alexander the Great in Alexandria was inspired by Halicarnassos building, which became known as «the mausoleum».

From the base to the ceiling, was a large structure (32 × 26 meters), a platform surrounded by 36 columns (the pteron), and in the next platform, like a pyramid height of the building that sustained it for 24 steps, which they would narrow as the pyramid rose. Finally, the pyramid was topped by a full-scale sculpture of a chariot of horses, some of which still survives today. The Mausoleum was a total of 50 meters.

Today, remnants of this once great monument offered a sad picture. The site already suffered in antiquity, but in the Middle Ages still impressed. In 1522, the Knights of Rhodes had destroyed every stone and employed many of his remains in the construction of Bodrum Castle.

The architects wrote a book about the monument they had created. This book was known in Roman times by authors such as Pliny the Elder, who has in his chronicles a brief description of its contents. Pliny says that four famous sculptors participated in the construction of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassos: Scopas, Briaxis, Leochares Tomoteo and who were responsible for the decoration in the east, north, south and west, respectively.

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, a wonder of the world!

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