Halicarnassus

Halicarnassus was an ancient Greek city at the site of modern Bodrum in Turkey. It was located in southwest Caria on a picturesque, advantageous site on the Ceramic Gulf. The city was famous for the tomb of Mausolus, the origin of the word mausoleum, built between 353 BC and 350 BC, and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was part of the Persian Empire until captured by Alexander the Great at the siege of Halicarnassus in 334 BC.

The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey

Coordinates: 37° 2′ 16″ N, 27° 25′ 27″ E

Haliarnassus

The Mausoleum was built as a tomb for the Persian Satrap Mausolus, a member of the Hecatomnid dynasty who governed Caria from 377 to 353 BC. Mausolus moved his capital from Mylasa to Halicarnassus. He founded many cities in the Greek model and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.

When Maulosus died in 353 BC, his queen Artemisia (who was also his sister) decided to build him the most splendid tomb in the known world. It was an elaborate tomb 135 feet (41 m) tall and ornately decorated with fine statuary and carvings in relief. It was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and stayed in ruins for hundreds of years until it was completely dismantled in 1494 and used by the Knights of Malta in the building of their castle at Bodrum. The modern word for a monumental tomb “mausoleum” derives from the Latin form of Mausolus’ name. Many statues and reliefs from the Mausoleum were carried to London’s British Museum in 1856 where they have been on display since then (see images here). At the site of the Mausoleum only the foundation remains as well as a small museum.

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Model of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria.

Just a short distance from the Mausoleum lies the theatre, the best preserved structure of ancient Halicarnassus. It is located 50 meters above sea level and overlooks the bay and the islands, providing a marvelous background for the spectators. The theatre was built in the 4th century BC during Mausolus’ reign and was enlarged in the 2nd century AD. The original capacity of the theatre is estimated as 10,000 people whereas the present capacity is almost 4,000.

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The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
Architectural elements from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
Architectural elements from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
Slab of the Amazonomachy frieze from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. On display in the British Museum in London.
Slab of the Amazonomachy frieze from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. On display in the British Museum in London.
Colossal statues of a man and a woman from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, traditionally identified as Maussollos and Artemisia II, around 350 BC. On display in the British Museum in London.
Colossal statues of a man and a woman from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, traditionally identified as Maussollos and Artemisia II. On display in the British Museum in London.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus, built in the 4th century BC during the reign of King Mausolos and enlarged in the 2nd century AD, the original capacity of the theatre was 10,000, Bodrum, Turkey
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus was built in the 4th century BC during the reign of King Mausolos and was enlarged in the 2nd century AD.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus, built in the 4th century BC during the reign of King Mausolos and enlarged in the 2nd century AD, the original capacity of the theatre was 10,000, Bodrum, Turkey
The original capacity of the theatre of Halicarnassus was 10,000.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus.

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