Map of Mausoleum and Sacred area of HecatomnusLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
The Mausoleum of Hecatomnus archaeological site lays in the middle of the modern city of Milas. While you may well go around the city when driving the main road from Bodrum to Ephesus or to the South coast of Turkey, only (T)WHS hunters would take time to drive through the town center to this site. It is managed by the museum of Milas, and entrance is free. There are very few signs to guide you there, and no park place for your car, but you can rely on Google and on the map of this website to find it.
Compared to other places in Western Turkey, this is a small site, but it is allegedly the best-preserved “mausoleum”. Four centuries before Christ, “Satrapes” (local kings), were ruling this area in the name of the then superpower: Achaemenid empire from Persia. They were heavily influenced by Hellenistic art and architecture, and one of them, Mausole, was buried in a great shrine, a kind of elevated temple, classical Greek style, in the heart of the city of Halicarnassus (nowadays Bodrum). The monument was so impressive that it was named one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the king gave his name to this type of monument: a mausoleum. If you go to Bodrum, you can see a big archaeological pit, with few stones – in few words: almost nothing. Visiting the Mausoleum of Hecatomnus (Hecatomnus was the father of Mausole, and a Satrape as well) in Milas will help you to figure out what a mausoleum may have been.
You can walk the paved, sacred area surrounding the mausoleum. The building stands around 2 meters above ground floor: only the massive podium is left, with some ceremonial stairs, while all the upper part (columns, etc.) is gone. Very unfortunately (for visitors!), these remains are sheltered under a metallic roof, and you cannot access the inner part of the building. Only one column stands up: the one that is believed to have held a statue of the king at its top. Nowadays it is crowned with a big nest. Underneath the podium, and therefore no accessible (for preservation reasons), there is the burial chamber, with the sarcophagus still in place in the middle, and some frescos on the walls. A two-room exhibition located in a nearby old ottoman house, also part of the museum of Milas, displays a replica of the sarcophagus and pictures of the frescoes. We also had the opportunity to watch a ten-minute movie about the life of Hecatomnus and the archaeologists’ work at the mausoleum – available in both Turkish and English. In total, one hour is enough to see the whole place.
One of the strongest claims for this site is that it is supposed to have been used as a reference to build, few years later, the famous Mausoleum in Halicarnassus – and to be better preserved, which is not so difficult. We enjoyed this visit, and people from the museum were very nice with us, but thinking back at our trip in Western Turkey and Greek Aegean islands, we see it as a minor site, important for local history and quite unique indeed, but probably not WHS class. But who knows? Very few is left at Heraion in nearby Samos, still it was inscribed years ago already.
2012 Added to Tentative List
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