Tomb of Mausolus

Tomb of Mausolus

Also known as the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Tomb of Mausolus was built for Mausolos, ruler of Halicarnassus . The tomb was constructed with gleaming marble and the numerous levels of the tomb were adorned by intricate statues of animals and people. It also incorporated Mausolus’ passion for Greek architecture. The Romans adopted the word mausolea for their tombs and today, the word mausoleum is still being used to describe burial places.


Mausolus assumed the role of ruler of Halicarnassus after his father, Hecatomnus of Milas passed away in 377 BC. Mausolus desired a lavish capital that had the capability to easily defend itself. He chose Halicarnassus as his new capital as it he could block the waterway impeding warships. On one side of the harbor, he built a heavily fortified palace. From the palace, guards could defend against incoming ships as well as easily see an incoming land invasion.

Mausolus, along with his wife and sister Artemisia, spent heavily to build Halicarnassus into a magnificent and beautiful capital. The streets were paved and extravagant statues could be found through out the city. Large buildings were constructed using gleaming and expensive marble. A Greek influenced theatre was built to entertain citizens. Even a temple was constructed and dedicated to the Greek god of war, Ares. To realize his dream, Mausolus had to heavily tax his citizens, which put a strain on the capital.

After Mausolus’ death in 355BC, Artemisia commissioned the construction of the tomb to hold their remains for eternity. Two years after Mausolus’s death, Artemisia passed away. It is believed they were cremated and their ashes placed into the unfinished tomb. It is unclear whether workers stayed to complete the tomb based on their passion for the deceased couple or their desire to complete the beautiful and unique tomb.

Quick Facts & figures

Commissioned By: Artemisia

Mausolus Died: 355 BC