1 Wonder of the Ancient World

Chuck and Lori's Travel Blog - Model of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Quick, name the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. And no cheating with Wikipedia!

Chances are you could get about three, maybe four: the Great Pyramid at Giza and a couple more. One of the ones you’re likely to have forgetten is the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. You’ll remember from yesterday’s blog that we said modern day Bodrum was ancient Halicarnassus. That means the site of this 1 of the 7 wonders is right in the middle of Bodrum, a couple of blocks up from the yacht harbor and safely nestled amongst stone houses, souvenir shops (where we got some nifty stuff for our progeny), and Turkish barbers (a hint on tomorrow’s blog).

You might also remember that the only surviving of the 7 wonders is the Great Pyramid, meaning, unfortunately, that what we found in Bodrum were the ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Mausoleums, of course, are buildings built to bury people in, and this one was built to impress: 150 feet tall (15 stories) with 36 huge columns and friezes depicting the greatness of its intended recipient, a guy named Mausolus.

Chuck and Lori's Travel Blog - Ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

Mausolus was a Persion king (of sorts) in the 4th century BC. Culturally he was Hellenic (talked like a Greek, walked like a Greek), which is not surprising given how much closer he was to Greece than to Persia. He managed some token military actions, but is largely the Rodney Dangerfield (without respect) when it comes to ancient Persian kings. If it weren’t for a loving sister (who also happened to be his wife) who insisted on constructing the massive building to house his body for posterity, Mausolus would hardly merit a historical footnote. The word “mausoleum”, by the way, derives from his name, meaning literally “building to put Mausolus in”, so the posterity notions of his wife-sister were achieved in a way totally different than she had originally intended.

Chuck and Lori's Travel Blog - Lori and Mausoleum Ruins
A couple of curiosities around our visit to the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. According to Wikipedia, the destruction of the Mausoleum was by earthquake. It’s entirely likely that a quake fell the building, at least collapsing the massive stone roof. That would have left a giant mausoleum-like pile of carved and shaped stone blocks and columns, except that those crusaders we talked about yesterday who built Bodrum’s nearby castle plundered that big pile of nicely carved stones to build said castle. What we have left today is a surprisingly small scattering of stones, pieces of column, and cut-outs in the rocky ground. Only one of the statues adorning the structure has found it’s way to a Turkish museum: a piece of a lion is on display at the Museum of Archaeology in Istanbul.
Chuck and Lori's Travel Blog - Lion Statue
If you’re wondering what the entire list of 7 wonders is, I’ll save you from having to jump over to Wikipedia. The list was pretty much the first “must-see” list for ancient travelers, compiled originally by Antipater of Sidon (the Rick Steves of his day) and tweaked by others over the following centuries. The 7 must-sees of the ancient world were:
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
  • The Great Pyramid at Giza
  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • The Colosus of Rhodes
  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria
  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

We can cross one off the list!

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