Last edited 08 Dec 2020


This model represents the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (near modern-day Bodrum, Turkey). The original structure was destroyed by several earthquakes during the 12th to the 15th centuries. Photo by Jona Lendering, Wikimedia Commons.


[edit] Introduction

A mausoleum is a building containing a stately type of tomb or a room for a tomb. The structure, typically made from stone, is freestanding and acts as an above ground burial chamber for the remains of one person or several people.

In English, the plural, mausoleums and mausolea, are both used.

[edit] History

The term mausoleum originated with the tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, which was considered by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This structure was built between 353 and 350 BC for Mausolus and his spouse, Artemisia (who was also his sister). Artemisia ordered the construction of the shrine for her husband and was interred in the mausoleum with him when she died.

Up until the widespread adoption of Christianity, large mausoleums were constructed for important people or leaders while smaller structures were used by the upper classes. After the rise of Christianity, this method of burial fell out of fashion for hundreds of years, but mausoleums became popular again in early modern times.

In areas susceptible to flooding, such as the American city of New Orleans, Louisiana, the above ground configuration of a mausoleum is considered a more practical burial option. Since it is possible to stack graves within a mausoleum, they are sometimes used in densely populated areas where available land is limited.

[edit] Modern mausoleums

A mausoleum encloses a burial chamber either wholly above ground or within a burial vault below the superstructure. Within the mausoleum is a crypt, which serves as both a memorial to the deceased and a container for the person’s remains.

There are several types of mausoleums

  • Public mausoleums for multiple individuals (sometimes hundreds).
  • Private (or custom) mausoleums exclusively for families.
  • Garden mausoleums situated outdoors.
  • Sarcophagus mausoleums which are partially above ground and partially below.
  • Vestibule mausoleums designed to look like small houses.

Famous examples of mausoleums include:

Taj Mahal at Agra, India


Pantheon, Rome in Italy


Les Invalides in France


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