Ancient Halicarnassus (Bodrum) is one of the golden cities that hosts the most magnificent structure of the ancient world that immortalizes the love of Artemisia and Mausolos. Bodrum was the most important port city of the period and was also the capital of Caria. Today, it is a natural wonder with its clean sea, unique beaches, sun that warms every season and idyllic coves.
Everything started with Mausolos for Halicarnassus. When the Persian regional ruler, satrap Hekatomnus, died, his eldest son Mausolos became satrap in 377 BC. He founded Halicarnassus with his diplomacy skills, genius and farsightedness in Anatolia, which was crushed by wars and rebellions. He moved the capital of Caria from Mylasa to Halicarnassus. According to the famous historian Herodotos of Halicarnassus, Mausolos, who invited the most famous architects and artists of the period, decorated the city with unique works of art. At the request of his father, Mausolos married with his sister Artemisia. This practice was more common among noble families at that time. Intermarriage, which was made in order to prevent property and lands from falling into the hands of other families, was not very common except for the Egyptian pharaohs.
It was Mausoleion that glorified the love between Mausolos and Artemisia. This gigantic monument, besides being a unique tomb, is a temple that carries these two lovers to immortality. Mausolos, who established an empire that all enemies envy, reigned in this magnificent city for only 24 years and died in 353 BC. Despite all the obstacles of his brothers Ada and Idrieus, Artemisia, the wife of Mausolos, ascended the throne with the approval of the Persian emperor. Despite the sadness of losing her husband, she continued the construction of the mausoleum started by Mausolos to show her love and loyalty. However, after the death of Mausolos, she could no longer endure the hardships and could not see the end of this magnificent monument.
Mausoleum, this unique wonder of the ancient world, continued to be constructed even after the death of Mausolos and Artemisia. Ada and Idrieus, who were against its construction from the very beginning, cut the financial support but did not prevent the monument from being finished. The architects and sculptors of the building completed the remaining missing sections with their own means, both for their own glory and for their loyalty to Mausolos and Artemisia.
The monument, designed by the architect Pytheos, was decorated with reliefs by the most famous sculptors of the period. Pytheos made the four horse-drawn carriages and sculpture group at the top.
The structure was built on an old burial site. It has a rectangular plan of 32×26 m. The structure, which is about 50 m high, consists of a podium rising at the bottom, a section with 36 columns and an Ionian temple on it, and a pyramid with 24 steps at the top. On the lowest step of the pyramid, there are lion statues that are considered sacred and protective in Anatolia. At the top of the monumental tomb are the statues of King Mausolos and Artemisia standing in a chariot.
When Alexander the Great entered Halicarnassus years later, he destroyed the city. The Macedonian commander did not give harm the Mausoleum because he had a great respect. It is thought that the monument, which stood for about 1500 years, was destroyed with an earthquake in 1304.
When the Knights of Rhodes came to Bodrum, the monument was largely destroyed. Stones and columns taken from the Mausoleum ruins were used during the construction of the Bodrum Castle. The building suffered its first major destruction at this time. Heinrich Schlegelholt, the architect of the castle, said that while talking about the Mausoleum in his memoirs, we destroyed it, we broke it, we burned it. With the development of firearms, the Knights of Rhodes, who needed to raise the castle walls, came to Mausoleum again in 1481 and reached till to the burial chamber which means the second major destruction to the structure.
In 1856, the Englishman Charles Thomas Newton found the Mausoleum as a result of his research and excavations by reading the Roman writer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, who visited Halicarnassus in ancient times. During his studies, Newton moved the large stone block that closed the burial chamber to its original location. Apart from the stairs leading down to the tomb chamber and the large stone blocking the entrance to the tomb chamber, he found statues of King Maousolos and his wife Artemisia, and reliefs and architectural fragments of the monument. He took all these works of art to the British Museum in 1856.
The Fisherman of Halicarnassus, Cevat Shakir Kabaağaçlı was so sad by the fact that the most important pieces of the Mausoleum were taken to England. He sent a letter to the Queen…
“Pieces in London are commune with the blue of Bodrum. They shouldn’t be staying in London. It’s necessary to bring them together with the blue that they are integrated into.”
Reading the letter, the Queen forwards the letter to the museum director. After a while, Fisherman of Halicarnassus, Cevat Shakir Kabaağaçlı receives a taunting reply from the director of the museum…
“We took your proposal very seriously. We had scientists examine the structure of the stones, and it’s true that they actually blend into blue. So we had the hall where the works are displayed in the museum painted in Bodrum blue. Thank you for your close attention.”
Although there were attempts to bring back these valuable historical monuments at later dates, there was no response.
At the moment ,13 reliefs from the excavations of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, statues of King Mausolos and Artemisia, and parts of the horse-drawn chariot found at the top of the mausoleum are still on display at the British Museum in London.
This eye-catching wonder of the ancient world has been the darling of researchers, writers and archaeologists throughout history. It is a unique building. Although most of the other wonders of the world have disappeared, the mausoleum is visited by many visitors every day.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which is a significant place for Bodrum, is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.