Mausoleum at Halicarnassus Facts

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is also called the Tomb of Mausolus. It was built in Halicarnassus, which is now called Bodrum, in southwest Turkey. It was one of the ancient wonders of the world and its site can still be visited today, although the building itself was destroyed by earthquakes in the 13th and 14th centuries.

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Mausoleum at Halicarnassus Facts for Kids

 

  • The Mausoleum was an enormous white marble tomb, built to house the body of King Mausolus of Caria (southwest modern Turkey) and his sister and wife Artemisia II.
  • Its construction was finished around 350 BC and it was built in the center of Halicarnassus, covering a large plot of land.
  • The Mausoleum was famous for its great beauty. It was almost square shaped, over 164 feet (50 meters) high and featured ionic columns (a Greek style of column with spiral scrolls) to hold up a pyramid roof. At the very top, there was a large statue of Mausolus and Artemisia in a chariot pulled by four horses.
  • Almost 19 centuries after it was completed, the Mausoleum was destroyed by earthquakes in the 1300s.
  • Most of what remained of the Mausoleum following the earthquake was taken apart and reused as building materials to reconstruct Bodrum castle by the Knights Hospitaller of St John in the 1500s.
  • The building was designed by Greek architects and decorated with Greek sculptures and decorative stonework.
  • Most of what we know about the Mausoleum is based on descriptions written by Roman author Pliny the Elder. His descriptions, alongside remaining stonework, have enabled us to create models of how the Mausoleum would have looked.
  • The House of the Temple in Washington DC was built to resemble how we think the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus would have looked.
  • Decorative marble stonework from the Mausoleum can be found today in the British Museum, London, England.
  • It is also believed that the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus inspired the tomb of Alexander the Great and the Belevei Mausoleum.

 

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Question: Why was the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus so famous?

Answer: The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was a wonder of the Ancient World. People who saw it were inspired by its grandeur and great beauty, word quickly spread and it became so well known that the word mausoleum is used to describe any large, decorative tomb.

Question: Can the Mausoleum still be visited today?

Answer: The site where the Mausoleum once stood can still be visited, although not much of the Mausoleum itself remains. Local buildings and Bodrum Castle contain quite a lot of the stonework and a lot of important decorative pieces have been moved to museums.

Question: Who actually built the Mausoleum?

Answer: The Mausoleum was designed and decorated by Greek craftsmen, although the local population will have been involved in the heavy building work. The building was inspired by traditional Greek architecture and was designed by Satyrus and Pytheos, famous Greek architects. Four of the best sculptors of the time each decorated a side of the Mausoleum. Pliny the Elder who wrote about the Mausoleum names the sculptors as Scopas, Bryaxis, Timotheus, and Leochares.

Question: Why was the mausoleum of Halicarnassus built?

Answer: In the past it was common for leaders of countries to build huge tombs for themselves. This not only added to their prestige and served a way of remembering and celebrating their greatness, but they may also have been thought to serve a role in connecting to an afterlife. Not many people out of the whole population could read and write, so a huge tomb would be understood by future generations as a sign of Mausolus’ greatness. Mausolus was an admirer of Greek culture and his Mausoleum was an outstanding example of Greek architecture.