Wonders of Bodrum: Halicarnassus Mausoleum.
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When Mausolus, King of Caria, died in 353 B.C., his wife Artemisia was overcome with grief. She mixed his ashes with water and drank them (a scene reimagined in works by Renaissance and Dutch masters), vowing to demonstrate her undying love by creating the most magnificent tomb in the world for her late husband. (He also happened to be her brother, so her grief – and architectural ambitions – were likely doubled.)
Artemisia spared no expense. She summoned celebrated architects, sculptors, and craftsmen from Greece. She ordered the finest white marble to build the complex structure: a base of steps 60 feet high, a layer of 36 Ionic columns, and a 24-tier pyramid-shaped roof. But that wasn't all. At the pinnacle, a 20-foot sculpture of Mausolus and Artemisia seemed to take to the sky in a chariot pulled by powerful horses.
The tomb, where Artemisia was also eventually buried, stood above Halicarnassus (and later its ruins) for 17 centuries. In the 1300s, earthquakes splintered its columns and hurled the chariot from the sky. Then, in the 16th century, Crusaders plundered the graves, scavenged marble to build Bodrum Castle, and pulverized statues for mortar. British Museum archeologists continued the plunder in the mid-1800s, hauling off friezes and other priceless treasures.
You'll see recreations of what the tomb looked like when it was considered one of the World's Seven Wonders, the equal of the Pyramid of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. They're shattered and scattered now, but the remnants of the Mausoleum – and the very word itself – stand as silent tribute to Artemisia's immortal love for Mausolus.
Mausolus and Artemisia, together forever
When archeologists excavated the Mausoleum site in the 1800s, they found a few things the Crusaders missed, including two statues believed to be Mausolus and Artemisia from high atop the building – the earthquake that drove the chariot into the sediment saved it. Today, you can still see the couple in the British Museum, surrounded by a few broken relics of the wonder she created in his honor.
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