The city, with its large sheltered harbor and key position on the sea routes, became the capital of the small kingdom, the most famous ruler of which was King Mausollos. His wife Artemisia built the great Tomb of Mausollos after his death, the so-called Mausoleum of Halicarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Artemisia, as queen of a kingdom of the Persian Empire, served under Xerxes in the invasion of Greece in 480 BCE and fought at the Battle of Salamis. Under the rule of Artemisia and Mausollos, the city underwent a great renewal in architecture and infrastructure as the monarchs wished their city to be the jewel of Anatolia. A great wall circuit, public buildings and a secret dockyard and canal were built as well as many well-ordered roads and temples to the gods.
The city was besieged by Alexander the Great in 334 BCE (the famous Siege of Halicarnassos) where he almost suffered defeat (it would have been his only one) but, at the last minute, his infantry broke the walls and burned the Persian ships. The Persian commander Memnon of Rhodes, realizing the city was lost, set fire to it and fled. The fire consumed most of the city. Alexander set his ally, Ada of Caria, to rule Halcarnassus and she, in turn, formally adopted him as her son so that his blood-line would always rule the city. After Alexander’s death, however, rule of the city passed to Antigonus I (311 BCE), Lysimachus (after 301 BCE) and the Ptolemies (281–197 BCE) and was briefly an independent kingdom until 129 BCE when it came under Roman rule.
A series of earthquakes destroyed much of the city as well as the great Mausoleum while repeated pirate attacks from the Mediterranean wreaked further havoc on the area. By the time of the early Christian era, when Halicarnassus was an important Bishopric, there was little left of the shining city of Mausollos. In 1404 CE the Christian Knights of St. John used the ruins of the Mausoleum to build their castle in Bodrum (which still exists today and where one may still see the stones which once were part of a Wonder of the ancient world). The ruins of the city were extensively excavated in 1856–57 CE and again in 1865 CE and much of its great wall, the gymnasium, a late colonnade, a temple platform, rock-cut tombs and the site of the Mausoleum (littered with those stones not used by the knights) may still be seen today.
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