The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were a collection of spectacular architectural achievements. The original list was compiled by Greek historian Herodotus and Callimachus of Cyrene around 484-425 BCE.
Of the original Seven Wonders, only the Great Pyramid of Giza remains standing today. The others have been destroyed over the centuries.
Colossus of Rhodes
In Greek mythology, the Colossus of Rhodes was a gigantic statue that stood over 107 feet (30 meters) tall. This colossal figure was built by the people of Rhodes to honor Helios, God of the Sun. It was begun in 292 BCE and remained under construction for 12 years.
The sculptor who was charged with the Herculean task of making this mighty statue was Chares of Lindos. He reportedly used tools and weapons left behind by the vanquished enemy to help fund the edifice, which was said to have taken around 300 talents to construct. Some scholars claim that the statue was armed with spears or a torch. The statue was supposed to be a sight to behold from the harbor entrance, although many depictions show the sun god straddling the harbor entrance, which is a physical impossibility given ancient casting techniques.
The Colossus was one of the world’s Seven Wonders and earned this distinction even though it collapsed at the knees in 280 BCE. The ancient writers Pliny and Strabo cited it as an example of an amazing achievement. For centuries, it loomed over Rhodes and drew visitors to the island. The statue would eventually be melted down for coins, tools, artifacts, and weapons. Eventually, the pieces were hauled away on nearly 1000 camels. The remaining portions of the Colossus would lie untouched for another 900 years until an Arab force captured the city in 654. The remaining parts of the statue were sold to a Syrian junk dealer who had them broken down and the bronze scrap was transported home on the backs of thousands of camels.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The Greek goddess Artemis (also known as Diana to the Romans) was similar to her twin brother Apollo in that she was an athletic huntress, a protector of wild and domestic animals and a goddess of chastity. She was also the patron goddess of Ephesus and her temple attracted many visitors throughout antiquity.
According to Pliny the temple was almost three hundred feet long and 180 feet wide with 127 gilded and painted columns. Sculptures by renowned artists including Polyclitus, Pheidias, Phradmon and Cresilas adorned the interior of the building. Most of the sculptures were of Amazons who were said to have founded the city of Ephesus.
As a result of the popularity of the Temple of Artemis, Ephesus became a wealthy city that was frequently visited by kings and emperors. However, as Christianity began to gain followers in the 5th century AD, the Temple of Artemis became less and less popular. The cult of Artemis was replaced by the Christian faith and the Temple was eventually destroyed by the Goths. Only a single column from the Temple remains today. It is now on display at the British Museum.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is a massive tomb that was built for the Persian satrap (local ruler) Mausolus of Caria, c. 350 BCE. The building was so magnificently adorned with statues and carvings that it made the list of seven wonders of the ancient world. Its name also gave the modern word “mausoleum” to any large funeral monument.
This impressive tomb was originally located in the city of Halicarnassus in what is now southwestern Turkey. It was a soaring marble edifice that reached a height of 140 feet. Its centerpiece was a 25-foot high chariot with statues of Mausolus and his wife Artemisia. The sculptures were surrounded by intricate friezes depicting war, hunting, and other savage scenes of the ancient world.
A number of ancient writers from Europe and Asia wrote about the Mausoleum, including the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23 to 79). The tomb made such an impression on the ancient world that it became known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Unfortunately, only fragments of the Mausoleum survive today. Some pedestal and column remains, while parts of the sculpted friezes can be seen in the British Museum. Other remains were cannibalized for the 15th century CE Bodrum Castle. However, it is still possible to appreciate the Mausoleum’s grandeur by visiting its site and looking at detailed reconstructions.
Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse of Alexandria, or Pharos as it is also known, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and served as a landmark in the harbor of the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Built in the 3rd century BCE, it was considered to be a marvel of engineering, a beacon of light and hope for mariners sailing into this large and intimidating port.
For over 1,500 years this colossal structure, which was the first ever lighthouse to be constructed in such a huge scale, guided mariners to safety and was admired by all. However, around 1375 AD this magnificent edifice was destroyed by a series of earthquakes that caused its base to partially collapse. Afterwards, some of the blocks were taken and used to build a castle for the Sultan and others fell into the sea.
After a while the monument became so degraded that it was finally turned into a medieval fort in the 14th century by the local ruler. Even so, its legacy lives on today and the ruins are still an image of the astounding design achievements that ancient civilisations were capable of displaying.
The ruins of this remarkable architectural wonder are worth visiting on any Egypt Culture tours that you choose to take. Visiting this extraordinary structure will give you a glimpse into our past and serve as a reminder of our amazing ability to create monumental structures that continue to impact the world.