One of the most memorable monuments to lost love is also one of the 7 Wonders of the World. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus once stood in the modern day city of Bodrum, Turkey. This white marble monument stood 140 feet tall, overlooking what was once a glorious empire.
In the year 377 BC, Halicarnassus was the capitol of a large empire. When Mausolus inherited the kingdom from his father, he was quick to extend the territory. He ruled alongside his wife, Artemisia, who was also his sister. This was a common practice during his time. They two were wed for 24 years and when the king died, his queen was heartbroken. Artemisia continued to rule the kingdom after his passing. Around 350 BC, Artemisia announced plans to create a beautiful tomb for her husband. It was to be the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
The location Artemisia chose for her husband’s tomb was on top of a hill. She wanted the monument to look over the kingdom her husband had fought so hard to conquer. The queen recruited Greek architects and artists, including Satyros, Pythius, Bryaxis and Timotheus. The burial site was enclosed with large walls and included a regal courtyard with an opulent staircase made of stone. Stone lions, gods and goddesses adorn the outer wall while the tomb itself is made out of marble.
At the time the tomb was built, this type of ornamentation was not typical. Locals had never seen such an expression of love before. The large stone lions guarded the stairs leading up to the tomb, providing an ominous and intimidating atmosphere. The builders used 36 columns to hold up the immense roof of the structure.
Of the many decorations adorning the mausoleum, one stood out among the rest. One of the artists included a statue of Artemisia and Mausolus riding in a chariot, carried by four horses. It was a special dedication to the couple. Unfortunately, these decorations no longer exist today. They have been destroyed, lost forever.
Artemisia died just two years after her husband did, leaving behind a beautiful reminder of her love and admiration. The tomb was not finished at the time of her passing. Fortunately, the builders and artists she hired continued to work on it in her absence. Her remains were placed in an urn and she was buried next to her husband.
The mausoleum met its unfortunate demise in 1522 AD. It had survived an earthquake, Alexander the Great’s overtaking and two separate pirate raids, but Crusaders finally demolished it. The Crusaders also took the remains of both Mausolus and Artemisia.
Some suggest that perhaps Mausolus began working on this temple before he died hoping it would be a wonderful tribute. There is no real evidence suggesting that this is the case, though many historians believe it is a possibility.
The main reason this mausoleum was chosen as one of the original Wonders of the World because of it s aesthetics. At the time it was built, no other monument was so ornate or grand.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus remains one of the original 7 Wonders of the World. Although it no longer stands on that majestic hill, it certainly carries a legacy. It is the source of the word ‘mausoleum,’ now used to talk about any above-ground tomb.