Let us see what are the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. More than 2,000 years ago, travelers would write about incredible sights they had seen on their journeys. Over time, seven of those places made history as the “wonders of the ancient world.” Check them out here.
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are:
- Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece
- Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
- Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
- Colossus of Rhodes
- Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
- The Pyramids of Giza: The Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed between 2584 and 2561 BCE for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu and was the tallest manmade structure in the world for almost 4,000 years. Excavations of the interior of the pyramid were only initiated in earnest in the late 18th and early 19th centuries CE and so the intricacies of the interior which so intrigue modern people were unknown to the ancient writers. It was the structure itself with its perfect symmetry and imposing height which impressed ancient visitors.
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon: It was built by Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BCE as a gift to his wife. They are described by the ancient writer Diodorus Siculus as being self-watering planes of exotic flora and fauna reaching a height of over 75 feet (23 m) through a series of climbing terraces. Diodorus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar’s wife, Amtis of Media, missed the mountains and flowers of her homeland and so the king commanded that a mountain be created for her in Babylon. The controversy over whether the gardens existed comes from the fact that they are nowhere mentioned in Babylonian history and that Herodotus, ‘the Father of History’, makes no mention of them in his descriptions of Babylon. There are many other ancient facts, figures, and places Herodotus fails to mention, however, or is wrong about. Diodorus, Philo, and the historian Strabo all claim the gardens existed. They were destroyed by an earthquake sometime after the 1st century CE.
- Temple of Artemis: The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, a Greek colony in Asia Minor, took over 120 years to build and only one night to destroy. Completed in 550 BCE, the temple was 425 feet long, 225 feet wide, supported by about 18 m high columns. Sponsored by the wealthy King Croesus of Lydia, who spared no expense in anything he did (according to Herodotus, among others) the temple was so magnificent that every account of it is written with the same tone of awe and each agrees with the other that this was among the most amazing structures ever raised by humans. On July 21, 356 BCE a man named Herostratus set fire to the temple in order, as he said, to achieve lasting fame by forever being associated with the destruction of something so beautiful. The Ephesians decreed that his name should never be recorded nor remembered, but Strabo set it down as a point of interest in the history of the temple. On the same night the temple burned, Alexander the Great was born and, later, offered to rebuild the ruined temple, but the Ephesians refused his generosity. It was rebuilt on a less grand scale after Alexander’s death but was destroyed by the invasion of the Goths. Rebuilt again, it was finally destroyed utterly by a Christian mob lead by Saint John Chrysostom in 401 CE.
- Statue of Zeus: The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was created by the great Greek sculptor Phidias. The statue depicted the god Zeus seated on his throne, his skin of ivory and robes of hammered gold, and was 40 feet tall, designed to inspire awe in the worshippers who came to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Not everyone was awestruck by the statue, however. Strabo reports: The Temple at Olympia fell into ruin after the rise of Christianity and the ban on the Olympic Games as ‘pagan rites’. The statue was carried off to Constantinople where it was later destroyed, sometime in either the 5th or 6th centuries CE, by an earthquake. This 40-foot statue depicted the king of the Greek gods.
- Mausoleum at Halicarnassus: The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was the tomb of the Persian Satrap Mausolus, built c. 351 BCE. Mausolus chose Halicarnassus as his capital city, and he and his beloved wife Artemisia went to great lengths to create a city whose beauty would be unmatched in the world. Mausolus died in 353 BCE, and Artemisia wished to create a final resting place worthy of such a great king. Artemisia died two years after Mausolus and her ashes were entombed with his in the mausoleum. The tomb was 41 m tall and ornately decorated with fine sculptures. It was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and lay in ruin for hundreds of years until, in 1494 CE, it was completely dismantled and used by the Knights of St. John of Malta in the building of their castle at Bodrum (where the ancient stones can still be seen today).
- Colossus of Rhodes: It was a statue of the god Helios constructed between 292 and 280 BCE. It stood over 110 feet high, overlooking the harbor of Rhodes, and despite fanciful depictions to the contrary, stood with its legs together on a base and did not straddle the harbor. The statue was commissioned after the defeat of the invading army of Demetrius in 304 BCE. Demetrius left behind much of his siege equipment and weaponry, and this was sold by the Rhodians for 300 talents (approximately 360 million US dollars) which money they used to build the Colossus. The statue stood for only 56 years before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BCE. It lay in impressive ruin for over 800 years, according to Strabo, and was still a tourist attraction.
- Lighthouse of Alexandria: The Lighthouse at Alexandria, built on the island of Pharos, stood close to 440 feet in height and was commissioned by Ptolemy I Soter. Construction was completed sometime around 280 BCE. The lighthouse was the third tallest human-made structure in the world after the pyramids, and it is light could be seen as far as 35 miles out to sea. The lighthouse was badly damaged in an earthquake in 956 CE, again in 1303 CE and 1323 CE, and, by the year 1480 CE, it was gone. The Egyptian fort Quaitbey now stands on the site of the Pharos, built with some of the stones from the ruins of the lighthouse.