The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is probably one of the most famous buildings in the history. If you have not heard of it yet, it is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and it was built in Bodrum.
Mausolus, a powerful tyrant of Caria, started to build a monument to grant himself an eternal life in 4th century BC. It is a fascinating story. If you are interested in ancient history, click here to read more about the Mausoleum. In this article, I am going to talk about the museum built on what is left of this extraordinary building.
The tomb of Mausolus had gone through wars, invasions, pirate attacks, greed of grave diggers and archaeologists and earthquakes for 2.400 years. Today, what we have is its foundation and ruins. Yet, what is left is surely enough to imagine how beautiful it was.
For better or worse, we are lucky to have it! Today, only two of the seven wonders of the ancient world can still be visited and one of them is the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
The other one? It is the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
Today, the monument itself may be gone forever however we still have enough to realize its magnificence even though if we have never seen it.
The knowledge which we possess about the mausoleum today comes from a series of unexpected sources. We can trace it on the walls of Bodrum Castle, at the docks of the Grand Harbour in Malta, artefacts and statues which were taken to the British Museum, and most importantly from the work of the ancient writers and historians such as Herodotus and Pliny the Elder.
All we can do is to connect the dots and imagine what it looked like in its most glorious times.
Picturing the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
According to Pliny, the Mausoleum was about 55 metres high, which is approximately equal to the height of 20 stores building. The foundation is a rectangle and measures 32 by 38 metres.
A high pedestal on the bottom section carried 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 – and 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 must have been very impressive.
We have some of these pieces to study on revealing the glorious old days of the monument. Scientists have found out that the friezes were originally in colour, for example. It looked like blue was the background colour while men’s bodies were painted in red.
Pyramidal roof was surrounded by sculptures of lions which were the protectors of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The ancient sculptors have used different materials in their work as well. We know that they also used 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 the British Museum’s Anatolian section.
Recommendations for The Visitors
The museum of Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is easy to find since it is in a central location. However, I met some visitors, having rough time to reach it. So, let us make it easier for you.
Assume that you are standing right before the entrance of the Bodrum Castle, facing towards the town. Old harbour, or castle harbour, is on your left. Now 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 the Adliye Mosque.
At that point, the pathway parallel to the seaside turns left towards the marina. Follow it and keep the harbour to your left. In 500 metres, you will see another mosque, just in front of you. It is the Tepecik Mosque and your way point. You are now as close as 350 metres to the museum.
The narrow street across the mosque entrance is the Hamam Street. Following it will take you to Turgutreis Street in 200 metres. As soon as you reach a 3-way junction, turn left. You will see the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus on your left in 100 meters. This is the easiest way to get there.
Or you can choose to follow an alternative road which goes through one of the most beautiful streets in Bodrum: The Saray Street.
Instead of taking a right-turn to the Hamam Street when you reach Tepecik Mosque, keep following the coastline towards the marina for another 150 metres. Saray Street is one of the narrow alleys on your right. Keep your eyes on the street signs and turn right when you see it.
Follow this narrow, stone alley until you come across to Turgutreis Street. Then turn right and voila! the museum will be on your right in 40 meters.
If you prefer to choose the first path, you can use Saray Street to get back to the coast after visiting The Mausoleum. Do not forget to take some stunning photos.
The museum entrance fee is around €2-€3. I guess, scheduling an hour and a half for The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus would be a good planning: 45 to 60 minutes for the museum visit and 30 minutes for the trip on foot. Enjoy!
Bodrum Maritime Museum
Is Bodrum Safe?