What are the seven wonders of the ancient world?
The Greeks had a habit which I’m sure many of us can relate to – making lists. Explorers travelled the area of the Mediterranean sea and created the first-ever ‘must-see’ list – ‘the seven ancient wonders of the world’. From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the statue of Zeus, the wonders all contain a certain sense of mystery and intrigue. All created for different purposes, comprising of various heights and made from a mixture of substances, they do all have one thing in common. They exist to awe, impress and amaze. And we are still just as much in awe of them today. Here’s a look at the original seven wonders of the world.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt
In the harbour of Alexandria, on the island of Pharos, is the lighthouse which stood for an extraordinary 1,600 years. Reaching an incredible height of 135 meters, the world’s first lighthouse could once detect ships approaching over 100 meters away. Second only to the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world. Beginning in 290 BCE, it took 20 years to build and two earthquakes to destroy. Atop the white marble building, mirrors reflected the sun during the day and a fire during the night. Ships could see the light at a staggering 35 miles out to sea.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Iraq
Now this one often causes disagreements, as there is officially no proof that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon ever existed. All we have is what’s written in books and journals from that time. The majority believe that the Ancient City of Babylon was once located in Iraq. However, some think it’s entirely fictional. Nevertheless, Babylon has stunned us for years. In a barren, desert land around 600 BCE, the hanging gardens of Babylon were erected alongside the Euphrates River. The gardens themselves were the height of a five-story building. It had thick walls made of brick and several tiers of flourishing, green plants draping down over the edges. The most impressive part is the skill of engineering for that time. They utilised the river to provide a constant supply of water to the plants.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Turkey
One of the most extravagant tombs ever built for a loved one in history. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was constructed after the death of King Mausolus around 350 BC. His wife (also his sister) built him the grandest tomb in existence to honour the best king that had ever lived. The building was eventually destroyed by a series of earthquakes around the 13th and 16th century AD. It now remains as ruins in what we now call Turkey. The tomb stood at 135 feet tall, creating a symbol of grandeur for the new city. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was so grand, that the king’s name, Mausolus has now become synonymous with the word mausoleum – meaning tomb.
The Temple of Artemis, Turkey
In Ephesus (what is now Turkey) a temple was built as a devotion to the goddess Artemis (the goddess of hunting, animals and earthquakes) around 650 BCE. The temple was built on marshland in an attempt to keep it safe from earthquakes. However, earthquakes were not all they had to worry about. The first Temple of Artemis was destroyed and restored to a much larger scale. The second was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt as marble. Eventually, the third was destroyed by the goths after standing for 600 years. Each temple was built a little larger until the final one stood at 450 feet long, held up by 125 columns.
Colossus of Rhodes, Greece
The gigantic statue of the god Helios stood at 33 meters high (about the same height as the Statue of Liberty), and was made entirely of bronze and bits of iron. Adding to its height was a 2 meter high, marble white platform making it one of the tallest statues in the ancient world. The Colossus of Rhodes was the last of the 7 ancient wonders of the world to be built. Built between 292 BCE and 280 BCE, the statue stood for 56 years before (like most of the other ancient wonders!) being destroyed by an earthquake. Built on the Greek island of Rhodes, The Colossus was created to celebrate the Rhodes’ victory over Cyprus. It was made by melting down bronze and iron from the enemy’s weapons.
Statue of Zeus, Greece
The statue of Zeus in Olympia, Greece, was reportedly one of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. The 43-foot tall statue of Zeus was built around 435 BCE, housed in the temple of Zeus. The sculpture had skin carved from ivory and embellished with a cape of gold, standing on a solid wooden frame. Ebony and precious stones were incorporated into the design by the famous sculptor Phidias. The statue of Zeus was later destroyed in the 5th or 6th century AD when the pagan religion was banned.
The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
Last but not least, we come to one of the most significant structures the world has ever seen. The only one of the ancient wonders which still stands. Built around 2550 BCE, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest pyramid ever built, standing at an unbelievable 147 meters high. This immense structure is mysterious, to say the least, hiding a world of secrets within its impenetrable walls. Architects and historians from all over the world have been examining and scrutinising these pyramids for years. Trying to figure out how they came to be, why, and what is inside. Yet, we still don’t have answers.
Made from 2.3 million stone blocks (each weighing 13 tonnes) it’s unbelievable that it only took 20 years to build. And with its perfect symmetry, hidden entrances, and the sheer magnitude of it, we are still in awe. But did you know that we are still discovering things about the pyramids? Only a few years ago, scientists discovered an enormous void that they’ve not managed to reach. It’s still under investigation.
If you fancy visiting some of these ancient sites to see the locations for the 7 ancient wonders of the world yourself, then take a look at our tours to Egypt and Turkey. All of our tours to Egypt visit the Great Pyramid of Giza, but if there’s a few sites which we don’t cover, why not add on a couple of days after the tour, or if you want a more personalised experience, go tailor-made!
Did you know about the new 7 wonders of the world? Read here to find out more about the modern wonders that you can actually visit!
Roxy is part of the marketing team for Tucan Travel. She has been travelling solo for years, predominantly around Asia, Indonesia and Europe. You can find her on LinkedIn here.