What Were the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?


The first and the original “Seven Wonders of the World” lists the most astounding and remarkable natural and man-made creations from the ancient era. Unfortunately, most of them no longer exist anymore. But thanks to extensive historical documents, artifacts, and many other references and sources, we are able to envision what most of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World looked like when they were still existing. Click through this gallery and find out what they are:

Egypt is known for its ancient historical landmarks such as the pyramids. But the most recognizable among them are the pyramids located in the city of El Giza, or simply Giza.

The largest and the oldest pyramid there is the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is the only remaining Wonder that still exists and is very much in an intact form. It wass known during the ancient times as Khufu’s Horizon, and was constructed over the course of 20 years, around 2580 to 2560 B.C. However, some sources say that the Pyramid was constructed in c. 2600 B.C. The Great Pyramid is 138.8 meters high (or just over 455 feet, in modern measurements), while its base is 230.4 meters (756 feet) wide.

Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by a casing stone that gave the structure a smooth outer surface. What you can see in the Pyramid today, though, is just the underlying core structure but traces of the smoother casing stone can still be found.

The Temple of Artemis (or Artemision or the Temple of Diana), was an ancient Greek temple. It was located in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, which is now near the town of Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was constructed in the mid-6th century. The temple was built in honor of the Greek goddess Artemis.

Most details referring to the Temple of Artemis come from the ancient Roman scientist and author Pliny. However, there are also other accounts regarding to the dimensions of the temple. According to Pliny, the Temple in Ephesus was 115 meters (377 feet) long and 46 meters (151 feet) wide. It was supposedly the first Greek temple made entirely of marble. The temple had endured three phases of rebuilding before its complete destruction in 401 A.D.

Unfortunately we are not able to see the original Temple of Artemis in its complete form. However, we can otherwise see its scale model located in Miniaturk, a miniature park in Istanbul, Turkey. The park features Turkey’s famed structures as well as interpretations of historic landmarks.

The site where the temple originally stood was discovered in 1869 by British archaeologist John Turtle Wood. His expedition was funded by the British Museum. Today, this very site lies just outside of Selçuk, and is marked by a single pillar made out of fragments discovered there.

The Statue of Zeus was a huge figure of the Greek god Zeus in a sitting position. It was created by the Greek sculptor Phidias c. 435 B.C. in Olympia, and then erected inside the Temple of Zeus (which is also non-existent today). It measured 42 feet (13 meters) high. The figure’s skin was made out of ivory while the beard, hair and robe were composed of gold. It was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders until it was eventually destroyed in the 5th century A.D. Now we can only rely on drawings and sketches of the statue by artists, as well as descriptions of ancient historians, to help us have an idea of how the Statue of Zeus looked.

The Mausoleum in Halicarnassus was a tomb built in the ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus, which is present-day Bodrum in Turkey. The tomb was constructed between 353 and 350 B.C. for Mausolus, Persian satrap (which is equivalent to a governor) and his sister and wife Artemisia II of Caria. Incest was very much common and allowed during the ancient era, by the way.

The tomb was designed by Satyros and Pythius of Priene, who were both architects. The structure measured 45 meters (148 feet) high, and each of the mausoleum’s four sides were decorated with beautiful reliefs. They were created by one of the four other sculptors: Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas of Paro,s and Timotheus. However, the mausoleum was demolished from the ensuing earthquakes between the 12th and the 15th centuries.

British archaeologist Charles Thomas Newton found the ruins of the mausoleum during the 19th century. The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus are now a tourist attraction in Bodrum. Mausolus’ name gave rise to the word mausoleum, which applies to any free-standing, grand tomb.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria was a tower built by the Ptolemic Kingdom and located in Egypt’s ancient and modern city, Alexandria. It is considered the very first lighthouse in the world. Construction of the lighthouse began in 280 B.C. (some sources say 290) and it took about 20 years to complete. The tower was made up of three levels: first is the squared section at the bottom, second is the octagonal section, and third is the circulation section.

The tower measured at 393 and 430 feet (120 and 137 meters, respectively) tall, making it one of the tallest structures in the world for many centuries. Then it became badly damaged from the 956, 1303 and 1323 earthquakes. Finally, during the 15th century, Egyptian sultan Qaitbay used the remaining rubble to build his own fort, therefore effectively clearing away the final remnants of the tower which had already been ruined from the earthquakes.

The now non-existent great tower is immortalized by the flag and seal of the Governorate in Alexandria, as well as many public establishments and services of the city.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World whose existence still remains a mystery. Sure, tradition says that the gardens were built in the ancient city of Babylon — the present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate in Iraq — but it has yet to be authenticated.

Since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon has yet to manifest some evidence that it existed, it’s not surprising that many stories are made up around them. According to one legend, King Nebuchadnezzar II built the gardens for his wife, Queen Amytis. He wanted to please his queen because she grew homesick for her homeland, the Median Empire, which consisted of forests, green hills and valleys. However, recent research and evidence gives hints that the gardens had more likely been built by Sennacherib, king of Assyria.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a 98-feet high (30 meters) monument of Helios, the Greek sun god. It was erected in the city of Rhodes which is located on the island of the same name, in Greece.

During the Siege of Rhodes in the 4th century B.C., the people of Rhodes allied with king Ptolemy I against their common enemy, King Antigonus I Monophthalmus of Cyprus. The enemies’ army was led by Antigonus’ son, Demetrius.

Rhodes successfully resisted the siege. To celebrate their victory, Rhodes decided to sell their enemies’ weaponry and used the profits to build a huge statue dedicated to Helios, their patron god.

The statue went on to lord over Rhodes, literally. The Colossus of Rhodes became one of the tallest monuments of the ancient world, until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 B.C. You might also be interested to read our article, What Were the Largest Cities in the Ancient World and What Secrets Do They Hold? to learn more about ancient cities and discover their stories.

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