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The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

A guide to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Posted on

11 May 2021

The Great Pyramid of Giza. The Lighthouse of Alexandria. The Colossus of Rhodes. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. These are the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one of which remains relatively intact today.

What are the seven wonders of the ancient world?

Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt


Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

Built between 2584 BC and 2561 BC

The only ancient wonder of the world to have survived until the present day, the Great Pyramid of Giza is located at Giza on the west bank of the Nile River north of Cairo in Egypt. The pyramid is part of a group of three pyramids Khufu (Cheops), Khafra (Chephren) and Menkaura (Mycerimus) that were built between 2700 BC and 2500 BC as royal tombs. The largest, most impressive of the three is Khufu. Known as The Great Pyramid, Khufu covers 13 acres and is believed to contain more than 2 million stone blocks weighing up to 30 tons each. Scientists believe that Egyptians built the pyramids using log rollers and sledges to move each stone into place.

Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt


Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt

Built between 284 BC and 246 BC

The Lighthouse of Alexandria, often called the Pharos of Alexandria, was located on a small island called Pharos near the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Designed by Greek architect Sostratos, the lighthouse helped to guide Nile River ships in and out of the city’s busy harbour. In recent years, archaeologists have discovered ancient coins on which the lighthouse was depicted. From them, they have deduced that the lighthouse had three tiers; a square level at the bottom, an octagonal level in the middle and a cylindrical top. Sadly, the structure was destroyed during a series of earthquakes from 956 AD to 1323 AD but some of its remains have since been discovered at the bottom of the river.

Colossus of Rhodes, Greece

The Colossus of Rhodes today

Colossus of Rhodes, Greece

Built between 292 BC and 280 BC

Built over 12 years, the Colossus of Rhodes was an enormous bronze sculpture of the sun god Helios. The structure was completed around 280 BC and stood for sixty years until an earthquake hit - it was never rebuilt. Hundreds of years later, Rhodes was invaded by Arabs who sold the remains of the statue as scrap metal. Because of this, archaeologists do not know much about the exact location of the statue or what it looked like - though it is believed to have depicted the sun god standing naked while he lifted a torch with one hand and a spear in the other. Designed by the sculptor Chares, the statue was once the tallest of the ancient world.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece

Statue of Zeus at Olympia today

Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece

Built between 466 BC and 456 BC

Made by the Greek sculptor Phidias, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia was a giant seated figure (about 41 ft tall) located in the Temple of Zeus. The statue, which was richly decorated with gold and ivory, depicted Zeus sitting bare-chested at a wooden throne. Holding up the armrests of the wooden throne were two carved sphinxes, mythical creatures with the head and chest of a woman, the body of a lion and the wings of a bird. In Greek Mythology, Zeus was the sky and thunder god, who ruled as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. Legend has it that when Phidias asked Zeus for a sign of approval, he struck the temple with lightning.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Iraq

Render of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Iraq

Completed in 600 BC

According to Greek and Roman literature, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built near the Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq. Created by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, the gardens were said to have been planted on a vast square brick terrace that was laid out in steps like a theatre. Writers have since described how people could walk underneath the beautiful gardens. Though there are multiple accounts of the gardens, none of them are firsthand - as a result, many modern scholars believe that the existence of the gardens was part of a fictional tale.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Turkey

The Mausoleum at Halircarnassus today

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Turkey

Completed in 351 BC

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was a tomb built by Artemisia for her husband, Mausolus, following his death in 353 BC. According to legend, Artemisia was so grief-stricken at the passing of her husband (who was also her brother) she mixed his ashes with water and drank them. The mausoleum was made entirely of white marble and featured a complicated design. In the 13th century, the mausoleum was largely destroyed following an earthquake - its remains were later used in the fortification of a castle.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey

The Temple of Artemis today

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey

Built in 550 BC and again in 323 BC

There was actually more than one Temple of Artemis! The original was designed by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Mategenes and was decorated by some of the ancient worlds most celebrated artists. The building was torched by a Greek citizen named Herostratus in 356 BC. His reason for doing so? So that his name would be known to history! He was killed and the Government declared it illegal to utter his name. Approximately six years later, the building of the second temple started. It was later destroyed by Ostrogoths in AD 262. It was not until the 1860s that archaeologists dug up ruins of the first temple at the bottom of the Cayster River.

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