You’ve likely heard of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but what are they exactly? And how many of them still exist today? Let’s take a trip back in history as we explore these ancient marvels.
What Are the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (sometimes just known as the Seven Wonders of the World) are a list of buildings, statues, and temples from classical antiquity that were considered remarkable during their time. Many authors have described and listed them, though today’s list of the Seven Wonders wasn’t finalized and agreed upon until the Renaissance. Below is a list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and a short description of each.
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World List
1. Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one that remains largely intact today. Also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, it is believed construction on this pyramid spanned a 10- to 20-year period, with a completion date around 2,560 BC. At 481 feet (146.5 meters) high, the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.
2. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are the only of the Seven Ancient Wonders whose location has never been definitively established. Much of what we know about them come from myth and legend. They have been described as a remarkable feat of engineering, featuring tiered gardens filled with a variety of trees, shrubs, and vines. They were said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, and supposedly resembled a large green mountain from afar. Because little is known about this wonder, some historians question whether they existed at all.
3. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was made by the Greek sculptor Phidias sometime around 435 BC in Olympia, Greece. Featuring a depiction of Zeus in his throne, the wooden framework of the statue was covered with ebony, ivory, gold, and precious stones. Little is known about the Statue of Zeus, as it was destroyed sometime in the 5th century AD, and the only details we know about it come from ancient Greek writings and coins. However, we do know that the statue was built in the Temple of Zeus, and that the figure was roughly 43 feet (13 meters) tall.
4. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Temple of Artemis (or Artemision), sometimes called the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple located in Ephesus (present-day Turkey). The temple was dedicated to the goddess Artemis, and was actually destroyed and rebuilt three times, the final of which was considered one of the Seven Ancient Wonders. By 401 AD, the temple had been destroyed, and only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain. While little is known about the temple’s appearance, Antipater of Sidon, who described the Seven Wonders said:
“…when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.’”
5. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, or Tomb of Mausolus, was a tomb built sometime between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present-day Turkey). It was built by Greek sculptors for Mausolus, a provincial leader in the Persian Empire, and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria. The Mausoleum was nearly 148 feet (45 meters) high, and was adorned with various sculptural reliefs. The Mausoleum survived for many years, but unfortunately was destroyed by earthquakes throughout the 12th to the 15th century, making it the last surviving of the six destroyed Ancient Wonders. Today, the word mausoleum is now used to describe any above-ground tomb.
6. Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek god Helios in the city of Rhodes (on the Greek island of the same name). It was built by Chares of Lindos in 280 BC, and commemorates Rhodes’ victory of the ruler of Cyprus, Antigonus I Monophthalmus. Many descriptions of the Colossus put the statue at about 108 feet (33 meters) tall. This is roughly the size of the Statue of Liberty, and it was the tallest statue in the ancient world. It collapsed during an earthquake in 226 BC, and was never rebuilt. However, even today, talk of building a new Colossus in Rhodes Harbor still pops up every now and then.
7. Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse of Alexandria, also called the Pharos of Alexandria, was a lighthouse built during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (280–247 BC) in Alexandria (then part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom). Estimates put the lighthouse at about 330 feet (100 meters) tall. For a long time, it was among the tallest man-made structures in the world. The lighthouse was damaged by earthquakes throughout 956 and 1323, eventually becoming ruins that survived in part until 1480. It was the third longest surviving Ancient Wonder after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Great Pyramid.
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Or, test yourself in the quiz below if trivia is more your style.