10 Most Famous Mausoleums in the World

The Tomb of Mausolus, was a tomb built at Halicarnassus for Mausolus, a governor in the Persian Empire. The structure was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph that Antipater of Sidon identified it as one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The word mausoleum has since come to be used generically for any grand tomb and this top 10 features some of the most famous ones. Unfortunately the famous Tomb of Mausolus didn’t make it to this list. It was damaged by an earthquake and eventually disassembled by European Crusaders in the 15th century.

10Tomb of Cyrus

Cyrus the Great was the founder and ruler of the vast Persian Empire in the 6th century BC. Hist tomb is the most important monument in Pasargadae, the ancient capital of Persia in modern-day Iran. When Alexander looted and destroyed Persepolis, he paid a visit to the tomb of Cyrus and commanded one of his warriors, to enter the monument. Inside he found a golden bed, a table set with drinking vessels, a gold coffin, some ornaments studded with precious stones and an inscription of the tomb: “Passer-by, I am Cyrus, who gave the Persians an empire, and was king of Asia”. Unfortunately, no trace of any such inscription survived to modern times.

9Lenin Mausoleum
Lenin Mausoleumflickr/yeowatzup

Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since the year he died in 1924. The corps requires daily work to moisturize the features and inject preservatives under the clothes. Lenin’s sarcophagus is kept at a temperature of 16 °C (61 °F) and kept at a humidity of 80 – 90 percent. Every eighteen months the corpse is removed and undergoes a special chemical bath. Visitors are not allowed to take photos or video, as well as talking and smoking in the tomb.

8Humayun's Tomb
Humayun's Tombflickr/eenar_6

The Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb, was commissioned by his wife in 1562 AD. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent and set a precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture. The mausoleum is located in Delhi, India. Inspired by Persian architecture; the tomb reaches a height of 47 meter (154 feet). The outer layer of the double dome supports the white marble exterior, while the inner part gives shape to the cavernous interior volume. As a contrast to the pure white exterior dome, the rest of the building is made up of red sandstone. While the main tomb took over 8 years to build, it was also placed in center of a 30-acre Persian-style garden.

7Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angeloflickr/Ed Yourdon

The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant’Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Rome, initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Hadrian’s ashes were placed here a year after his death in 138, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217. The building was later used as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

6Tomb of Jahangir

The Tomb of Jahangir is the mausoleum built for the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who ruled from 1605 to 1627. This famous mausoleum is located in Lahore, Pakistan. His son built the mausoleum 10 years after his father’s death. It is sited in an attractive walled garden and has four 30 meter high minarets. The interior is embellished with frescoes and colored marble. The interior of the mausoleum is an elevated sarcophagus of white marble, the sides of which are wrought with flowers of mosaic.

5Imam Husayn Shrine
Imam Husayn Shrinewikipedia/Larry E. Johns

The Shrine of Husayn ibn ‘Ali is slocated in the city of Karbala, Iraq and stands on the site of the grave of Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the second grandson of Muhammad, near the place where he was killed during the Battle of Karbala. The tomb is one of the holiest places for Shi‘as and many make pilgrimages to the site. The boundary wall of the shrine surrounds wooden gates covered with glass decorations. The gates open into a courtyard separated into 65 smaller rooms, well decorated from the inside and outside. The grave of Husayn is enclosed within a cage-like structure, found directly beneath a golden dome.

4Mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs

This mausoleum is part of the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, the biggest monument of the Shirvan-Absheron branch of the Azerbaijan architecture, situated in the Inner City of Baku. Besides the Mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs the complex contains the main building of the palace, a small stone pavilion, the burial-vaults, a mosque and the remnants of the bath-house. The mausoleum is of a rectangular shape and crowned with a hexahedral cupola which is decorated from outside with multi-radial stars. Sultan Khalilullah I ordered the construction of this light burial-vault for his mother and son in the 15th century.

3Shah-i-Zinda
Shah-i-Zindaflickr/upyernoz

Shah-i-Zinda is one of the most famous mausoleums of Central Asia, which is situated in the north-eastern part of Uzbekistan. The Shah-i-Zinda complex comprises of three groups of structures connected by four-arched domed passages. The earliest buildings date back to the 11-12th centuries. Most of the buildings however date back to the 14-15th centuries. The name Shah-i-Zinda, “The living king”, is connected with the legend of Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of the prophet Muhammad. According to the lenged he was beheaded but took his head and went into the deep well (Garden of Paradise), where he’s still living now.

2Terracotta Army

The Mausoleum of the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC), who successfully defeated all rival states and unified China, is located near the city of Xi’an. The tomb of the emperor has not been excavated yet but his buried terracotta army unearthed nearby has already become one of the top tourist attractions in China. It is estimated that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried. The figures are life-like and life-sized. The colored lacquer finish, individual facial features, and actual weapons that were used in manufacturing these figures created a realistic appearance. Although the weapons were stolen and the coloring has faded greatly, their existence serves as a testament to the amount of labor and skill involved in their construction.

1Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal in Agra is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1632 and 1653 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Mughal architecture, and one of the great wonders of India. Called “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity”, the monument is actually an integrated complex of structures. Besides the white domed marble mausoleum it includes several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes.

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Map of Famous Mausoleums In The World

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