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Remains of the tomb of Maussolos (2009)

A mausoleum is a monumental tomb in the shape of a building. The expression is derived from Maussol-eion , the tomb of Maussolos belonging to the ancient seven wonders of the world in Halicarnassus (today Bodrum ), dedicated to the governor of Caria on the west coast of today's Turkey between 377 and 353 BC. Chr.

The word mausoleum has been documented in German-language literature since the 16th century. This tomb type of antiquity was reactivated in classicism, albeit in a smaller form. These are often two-storey architectures, consisting of a prayer room and an underlying crypt, whereby the crypt and chapel can be combined in one room above ground. Functionally, these modern mausoleums form a hybrid form of building and monument and, within the sepulchral culture, fulfill the aspects of commemoration of the dead, representation and appeal to posterity.

Mausoleums in Islam

Shrine of Hazrat Ali in Mazar-i-Sharif , Afghanistan, one of the alleged burial places of Ali , the cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed . Mazar-i-Sharif means "Tomb of the Exalted".
Sayyeda Ruqayya Mashhad in Cairo

Mazār ( Arabic مزار 'Place to be visited; Place of pilgrimage; Sanctuary ') is a mausoleum or shrine , primarily a burial place of a famous or "holy" Muslim personality. In Middle Arabic, terms such as mašhad, maqām or ḍarīḥ are used analogously. In Palestine and in scientific literature, these sites are also referred to as wali or weli . They are often associated with a certain popular belief , but also with syncretic elements. The followers of the strict sect of the Wahhabis , the Salafists (from Arabic سلف الصالحين, DMG salaf aṣ-ṣāliḥīn  'ancestors of the virtuous'), attach great importance to the fact that no human being can mediate between man and God. They hold Muslims who are "holy personalities" ( Arabic اولياء الله, DMG Aulīya 'Allaah'  Friends of God ') and worship their shrines, for heretics . In 1802, Wahhabi troops captured Karbala and partially destroyed the shrine of Imam Husayn . In 1925, the commander and later King of Saudi Arabia , Saud I ibn Abd al-Aziz , destroyed the mausoleums of the Baqīʿ al-Gharqad ( Arabic بقيع الغرقد, DMG baqī 'al-ġarqad ) in Medina , the burial place of four of the Shia imams and of Fātima bint Muhammad . The cemetery was completely destroyed in 1926 under Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud , but it still serves as a cemetery.

Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra before the 2006 bomb attack.

There are no specific architectural types for mazārat that vary widely in size and finish. What they all have in common is a turba ( Arabic تربة 'Grave, burial place, tomb'), a grave in the center, which is usually rectangular.


Mazār (plural mazārāt ) goes back to the word ziyāra ( Arabic زيارة) meaning "(reverently) visiting". It refers to specific places and times.


  • Mashhad ( Arabic مشهد, DMG Mašhad , pluralمشاهد, DMG Mašāhid 'place of martyrdom (of the martyrdom)') often also refers to a tomb of a saint or the place where a religious experience (e.g. martyrdom) took place. With this designation are the wordsشاهد, DMG šāhid 'witness' andشهيد, DMG šahīd 'Martyrs, Blood Witnesses'. The city of Mashhad in Iran got its name from Mašhad , which means "place of martyrdom", since the eighth Imam Ali Al-Ridha is said to have become a martyr here. A Mashhad often has a canopy or dome over the burial place in the building. Sometimes it also has a minaret .
  • Maqam ( Arabic مقام, DMG maqām , pluralمقامات, DMG maqāmāt , literally translated “place on which something is built”, also “location”) is the name that is often used for Ahl al-bait shrines (memorials for members of the family of Mohammed). Ibn Taymiyya writes that the maqāmāt are places where the venerated person lived, died or was religiously active, and the maschāhid are buildings over the maqāmāt or over relics of the person.
  • Darīh ( Arabic ضريح, DMG ḍarīḥ  'grave, burial place, mausoleum', pluralاضرحة, DMG aḍriḥa ) is a depression in the middle of the grave, but also designates the grave itself.

Regional names

  • Mazār was adopted as an Arabic loan word in Persian and Urdu . Therefore it is used in Iran and other countries with Persian culture, especially in Afghanistan , Pakistan and India .
  • Walī (singular from Arabic اولياء, DMG Auliyā ''  friend [of God] '): In Palestine this term is used both for a saint and for his memorial or his tomb. The memorial of a prophet is also called Arabic حضرة, DMG ḥaḍra  'presence, presence' (at the same time a salutation for a higher personality), while that of an ordinary saint is a maqam and that of a famous saint is a Mashhad . In the 19th and 20th centuries, the name walī , also via Turkish veli as "Weli" or "Welli", was adopted into Western literature.
  • Qubba ( Arabic قبة 'Dome', plural قباب, DMG qibāb andقبب, DMG qubab , Persian گنبد, DMG gonbad , 'dome') grave building or place of worship of a saint. In popular Islam there is the idea that a holy man passes on his baraka (“blessing power”) through his grave even after death. This makes the tomb a source of baraka and thus also a place of ziyāra (pilgrimage). A holy man is called a wale , faki or sheikh in Sudan .
  • Aramgah ( Persian آرامگاه, DMG ārāmgāh , 'resting place') is a common term in the Persian-speaking area for a mausoleum or tomb.
  • In Iran, smaller shrines in the form of a mosque are called Imamzadeh ( Persian امازاده, DMG emāmzāde , 'descendant of an imam', also "tomb of an imam descendant").
  • Occasionally, shrines of Sufi masters in Iran are also referred to as dargāh .
  • In northwest China, gongbei ("dome") are built over the grave of Sufi masters of the Hui Chinese .
  • In South Africa (especially in the Western Cape region ) a kramat (from Arabic كرامة, DMG karāma [t]  , miracle, miracle deed [ of saints] ') the grave of a spiritual leader or “friend of God” ( Walī Allāh ), often within a rectangular building that serves as a mausoleum (mostly for Cape Malay ).
  • In Indonesia , the words makam and kuburan refer to the graves of the early missionaries, especially those of the Walisongo (nine saints) of Java .

Well-known mausoleums

Mausoleum of Fariduddin Attar in Nishapur
Mausoleum in Dierdorf
The burial culture of the ancient Egyptians was carried out with relatively much effort
Mausoleum of the Grand Dukes of Oldenburg in Oldenburg
Mausoleum of the Goldburg in Murstetten
Mausoleum of Count Yorck von Wartenburg in the castle park of Klein Oels


  • Chirqa Sharīfa ( Persian خرقه شريفه, DMG ḫirqa šarīfa "penitent shirt of the noble one") in Kandahar . It contains a cloak that is attributed to Mohammed.
  • Ali mausoleum in Mazar-e Sharif , one of the alleged burial places of Ali .


In Cairo , the shrines date from the Fatimid period and are mostly simple, rectangular structures with a dome. Some of the mausoleums at Aswan were more complex and had side rooms. Most, however, have been destroyed or completely rebuilt













Mashhad al-Husayn in Aleppo.
  • Mashhad al-Husayn (Maschhad Al-Nuqtah), Aleppo , from the Ayyubid period is the most important medieval building in Syria. The shrine of the blood of al-Hussain ibn ʿAlī was built in a place indicated to a shepherd by a saint when he appeared to him in a dream. The current building is a reconstruction: the original building was badly damaged by an explosion in 1918 and lay in ruins for forty years.




Mausoleum of Sheihantaur in Tashkent , Uzbekistan
Imogiri Mausoleum complex of the sultans of Java , Indonesia




In Africa, are the tombs of pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor , but especially the one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient counting Pyramids of Giza to name, who are also expected also the oldest mausoleums of the world. Other pyramid tombs can be found in Nubia .





Bückeburg mausoleum in the palace gardens
Mausoleum for the entrepreneur and patron Emil Possehl on the Burgtorfriedhof in Lübeck




Ancient mausoleums

Early Christian mausoleums


  • The mausoleum of Ivan Meštrović (in which he and his family members were buried) in the village of Otavice near Drniš ( Dalmatia ).
  • Mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian in Split . (Inside the palace walls of Diocletian's Palace)



Mausoleum at the old Jewish cemetery, Austria



Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square



Czech Republic

United Kingdom

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Helke Kammerer-Grothaus: Antikenrezeption und Grabkunst. In: From the churchyard to the cemetery. Change processes between 1750 and 1850. Symposium from May 11th - 13th 1981 in Mülheim / Ruhr on the research project recording and documentation of the sepulchral culture of Classicism, Romanticism and Biedermeier, working group cemetery and monument in Kassel. Kassel 1984, ISBN 3-924447-04-7 , pp. 125-136, p. 125. (Kassel Studies on Sepulchral Culture, Volume 2)
  2. ^ Norbert Fischer: From Gottesacker to the crematorium: a social history of the cemeteries in Germany since the 18th century. Diss. Phil. Hamburg 1996. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-412-11195-3 , p. 66.
  3. See H. Wehr: Arabic dictionary for the written language of the present , Wiesbaden 1968, p. 350.
  4. Sandouby 2008: 14th
  5. See H. Wehr: Arabic Dictionary , pp. 385 and 474.
  6. ^ J. Spencer Trimingham: The Sufi Orders in Islam . Oxford University Press, July 16, 1998, ISBN 9780198028239 , p. 105.
  7. ^ Nasr 2007: 97.
  8. ^ Nasr 2007: 97; Loring M. Danforth: Crossing the Kingdom: Portraits of Saudi Arabia . Univ. of California Press, March 29, 2016, ISBN 9780520290280 , p. 163.
  9. ^ Houtsma 1993: 425.
  10. Sandouby 2008: 16.
  11. Sandouby 2008. p. 14.
  12. Halm 2007: 26.
  13. Sandouby 2008: 17.
  14. Sandouby 2008: 15.
  15. Sandouby 2008: 16.
  16. See H. Wehr: Arabic Dictionary , Wiesbaden 1968, p. 490.
  17. Sandouby 2008: 15.
  18. ^ Moshe Sharon : Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae (CIAP), Volume Two: BC . Brill Academic Publishing, 1998, ISBN 9789004110830 , p. 172 (accessed January 3, 2015).
  19. Guérin, 1880: 488
  20. See H. Wehr: Arabic Dictionary , Wiesbaden 1968, p. 658.
  21. ^ Robert S. Kramer, Richard A. Lobban Jr., Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban: Historical Dictionary of the Sudan  (= Historical Dictionaries of Africa), 4th edition, Scarecrow Press, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, USA 2013, ISBN 978-0-8108-6180-0 , p. 361 (accessed on May 2, 2015): “QUBBA. The Arabic name for the tomb of a holy man ... A qubba is usually erected over the grave of a holy man identified variously as wali (saint), faki, or shaykh since, according to folk Islam, this is where his baraka [ blessings] is believed to be strongest ... "
  22. See H. Wehr: Arabic Dictionary , Wiesbaden 1968, p. 732.
  23. Cf. Junker / Alavi: Persian-German Dictionary , Leipzig / Teheran 1970, p. 271; DMG after the Afghan debate.
  24. ^ Kuiper 2009: 164.
  25. Petersen 2002: 45.
  26. Petersen 2002: 45-46.
  27. Houtsma 1993: 488.
  28. Rabasa, Chalk, Cragin 2006: 51.
  29. ^ Nasr 2007: 63.
  30. B. Tayefeh-Mahmoudi: The Persian doctor and philosopher Avicenna (Ibn Sina). Medical dissertation Düsseldorf 1964, pp. 70-79.
  31. ^ Nasr 2007: 58.
  32. ^ Nasr 2007: 58-59.
  33. ^ Nasr 2007: 56.
  34. Tabbaa 1997: 110.
  35. Tabbaa 1997: 111.
  36. Tabbaa 1997: 110.
  37. ^ Hugo Brandenburg: The early Christian churches in Rome from the 4th to the 7th century. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2013, p. 56ff.
  38. Hans Georg Wehrens: Rome - The Christian sacred buildings from the 4th to the 9th century - A Vademecum. Herder, Freiburg, 2nd edition 2017, pp. 90ff.
  39. Carola Jäggi: Ravenna - art and culture of a late antique residence city. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2016
  40. Carola Jäggi: Ravenna - art and culture of a late antique residence city. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2016


Web links

Commons : Mausoleums  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Mausoleum  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations