The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is probably one of the most famous buildings of the history. If you haven’t heard it yet, it is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and it is in Bodrum.
Mausolus, a powerful tyrant of Caria, started to build a monument which would give him an eternal life in 4th century BC. It is a fascinating story. If you are interested in ancient history, you may want to click on Mausoleum to read more.
The tomb of Mausolus had gone through lots of troubles for more than two thousand years. Now there only exists its ruins after wars, invasions, pirate attacks, earthquakes, looters, so-called architects and archaeologists, grave diggers and many more.
Against all odds, we are lucky to have it because it is one of the two wonders left in the world which we can still visit. The other one? It’s The Pyramids in Egypt!
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is open for visitors as a museum run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Today, the monument has gone forever but we still have the foundation and some ruins to visit. But how do we know its magnificence if we’ve never seen it?
The knowledge that we possess comes from the foundation, architectural fragments on the walls of Bodrum Castle, the docks in Grand Harbour in Malta, artefacts and statues taken to the British Museum and most importantly from the work of the ancient writers and historians like Herodotus and Pliny the Elder.
So what we can do is to connect the dots and imagine what it looked like.
According to Pliny, the Mausoleum was about 55 metres high, which is approximately equal to the height of 20 stores building. The base is a rectangle and measures 32 by 38 metres.
A high pedestal on the bottom section was carrying 36 Ionian pillars around the building. A pyramidal roof with 24 stairs was on the top of these pillars. A sculpture of Mausolus and his wife - his sister at the same time - Artemisia II standing in a chariot ridden by 4 horses was at the top.
The marble carvings on all four sides demonstrate very realistic scenes from the Hellene-Amazon and Hellene-Centaur fights. Centaurs are half human, half horse mythological creatures. Flawless technique in hundreds of sculptures and carvings that surround the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is impressive.
We have some of these pieces to study on for revealing the past glorious days of this monument. Scientists have found that friezes were originally in colour, for example. It looks like blue was the background colour while men’s bodies were painted in red.
Pyramidal roof was surrounded by lion sculptures which were the protectors of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The ancient sculptors were also used different materials in their work like bronze especially in some of weapons and horse bridles.
In the open display section of the Mausoleum, there is only one original copy of these carvings. The rest is plaster copies of the genuine pieces which are on permanent exhibition at British Museum’s Anatolian section.
The location of the Mausoleum is quite easy but still I met some tourists having difficulties in finding it. So let’s make it easier.
Let’s assume that you are standing before the castle entrance and facing towards the town. Old harbour, or castle harbour, is on your left. Start walking!
In a minute, you will see a mosque across the square adjacent to the castle on your right. It is Kizilhisarli Mustafa Pasa Mosque. Keep walking until you come across Bodrum Municipality square. You will see a second mosque on your right. It is Adliye Mosque.
At that point, pathway parallel to the sea side turns left towards to marina. Follow it and keep harbour on your left. In 500 metres, you will see another mosque, just in front of you. It is Tepecik Mosque which is also your way point. You are now as close as 350 metres to the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
The narrow street across the mosque entrance is Hamam Street. Following it will take you to Turgutreis Street in 200 metres. When you come to the 3 way junction, turn left and in 100 meters you will see the Mausoleum on your left. This is the easiest way for giving a direction.
There is another, and more beautiful path you can follow. This path goes through Saray Street which I think it is the prettiest street in Bodrum which you may want to see. It is the best preserved old street in town showing how would it be if we could keep Bodrum as it was 40-50 years ago.
If you keep walking for another 150 meters after Tepecik Mosque towards marina, you will see this narrow street on your right. Just check the street signs as you walk. Follow this alley until you come across to Turgutreis Street. This time turn right and you will see the museum on your right in 40 meters.
If you prefer to choose the first path, you can use Saray Street to go back to the coast after visiting The Mausoleum. Now or later, I suggest you to walk along this street and take some beautiful pictures.
The museum entrance is around €3. I think scheduling an hour and a half would be enough to visit The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. One hour for the museum itself, and 30 minutes for walking. Enjoy!