King Mausolus, Persian
Caria (377-353 BCE), thought he was
a big deal. So did his wife (who was
also his sister) Artemisia.
After the king's death, Artemisia
commissioned the kingdom's most prominent
architects and sculptors to design
and build a funerary monument to her
husband-brother that would eclipse
all others. And so it did.
So grand was the Mausoleum that
it was numbered among the Seven
Wonders of the World, and lent its name to
any and every grand funerary monument
built anywhere in the world during
the two millennia following its construction.
Several centuries later, the fashion
for mausolea caught on with the Romans,
who built them along roads and at places
like Hierapolis (Pamukkale), where
you can see them still.
There's not much left of the original Mausoleum.
In the early 1400s, the Knights
Hospitaller of Rhodes enlarged
and strengthened their Castle
of St Peter. In need of
cheap, ready building materials, they
spied the Mausoleum close by, admired
it for a time, then broke it to pieces
and used the pieces in the castle's
rubble walls, or crushed the marble
into lime for mortar.
By papal decree of 1409, those who
worked on the castle were guaranteed
a place in heaven (though not, perhaps,
in the hearts of historic preservationists).
it may have looked like when
In the early 1500s, what was left
of the decorative stone from the Mausoleum
(not much) was used to embellish the
In 1522, what remained of the stone
from the Mausoleum was crushed and
burnt to make lime to strengthen the
castle for defense against an anticipated
attack by the armies of Sultan
Süleyman the Magnificent.
The sad irony here is that the knights
knew they would lose and have to abandon
the castle (Süleyman had a b-i-g army),
but chivalric honor required them to
put up a good fight.
They lost, and left the castle forever.
A few bits of art from the Mausoleum
have survived. In 1846 Lord
Stratford Canning, British ambassador to the
Ottoman sultan, obtained permission
to take a dozen marble reliefs,
some stone lions and a stone leopard, to
the British Museum, where they remain.
All this is explained in exhibits
in a shelter next to the site. Plaster
copies of the 12 marble reliefs are
also on display.
The Mausoleum Museum (or
Mausoleion), on Turgutreis Caddesi
at Saray Sokak (map),
is open from 08:00 am to 17:00 (5 pm),
closed Monday. Admission costs TL8.
—by Tom Brosnahan