The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Let’s face it, not many people can claim to live on the same street as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. No trip to Bodrum is complete without a look around the meagre ruins of the once magnificent Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (Bodrum that was) which are located a few hundred metres from our house. The vast tomb was constructed to inter the remains of King Mausolus in 350 BC (hence the origin of the word mausoleum). Remarkably, the monument survived virtually intact for seventeen centuries before it was felled by an earthquake in the middle ages. What remained was plundered by the Knights of St John to build the imposing crusader castle that now dominates the town. The fortress rises above the same strategic promontory where Mausolus’ palace once stood.

Admittedly, visitors need a vivid imagination to visualise how the monument once looked. All that really remains is a large hole in the ground with multiple fragments of pillars and dressed stones scattered about randomly. There is a bijou and rather tired museum which attempts to fill in some of the detail. It features a naff video on a loop: more of a tourist board advert for Bodrum. Typically, there’s more to be seen in the British Museum in London.

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Still, there’s something about the place. A pretty overgrown precinct provides a welcome tranquil respite from the heat, hassle and bustle of the modern town. We visited on a sunny spring day. The shrubbery was verdant and winter waters still trickled through the foundations covering the stones with algae and creating a pool in Mausolus’ burial chamber. It was teeming with tadpoles and other pond life. After an hour or so tumbling over the ruins, we popped home for a welcome cuppa.

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