The Seven Wonders of the World also known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World or simply as Seven Wonders is a list of remarkable constructions of classical antiquity given by various authors in guidebooks or poems popular among ancient Hellenic tourists.
The Seven Wonders were first defined as themata – Greek for ‘things to be seen’ which, in today’s common English, we would phrase as ‘must-sees’ – by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BCE, in his work On The Seven Wonders.
Other writers on the Seven Wonders include Herodotus, Callimachus of Cyrene, and Antipater of Sidon. Of the original seven, only the Great Pyramid exists today.
Of the original Seven Wonders, only one — the Great Pyramid of Giza, oldest of the ancient wonders — remains relatively intact. The Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus were all destroyed. The location and ultimate fate of the Hanging Gardens are unknown, and there is speculation that they may not have existed at all.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is a huge pyramid built by the Ancient Egyptians. It is part of a complex of 3 large pyramids in the Giza Necropolis located near modern Cairo, Egypt. When it was built it was 146.5 meters (481 feet) tall and measured 230.4 meters (755.9 feet) along its sides. Today, because of erosion, it is 138.8 meters (455 feet) tall. It was the tallest building in the world for over 3,800 years.
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name, by Chares of Lindos in 280 BC. According to most contemporary descriptions, the Colossus stood approximately 70 cubits, or 33 metres (108 feet) high – approximately the height of the modern Statue of Liberty from feet to crown – making it the tallest statue in the ancient world. It collapsed during the earthquake of 226 BC, although parts of it were preserved.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria, sometimes called the Pharos of Alexandria was a lighthouse built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom, during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (280–247 BC), which has been estimated to be at least 100 metres (330 ft) in overall height. The lighthouse was severely damaged by three earthquakes between 956 AD and 1323 and became an abandoned ruin. It was the third-longest surviving ancient wonder (after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Great Pyramid of Giza), surviving in part until 1480, when the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus or Tomb of Mausolus was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC in Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, a native Anatolian from Caria and a satrap in the Achaemenid Empire, and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria. The structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene. Its elevated tomb structure is derived from the tombs of neighbouring Lycia, a territory Mausolus had invaded and annexed circa 360 BC, such as the Nereid Monument.
The Temple of Artemis or Artemision also known as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis (associated with Diana, a Roman goddess). It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). It was completely rebuilt twice, once after a devastating flood and three hundred years later after an act of arson. By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed. Only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain at the site.
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was a giant seated figure, about 12.4 m (41 ft) tall, made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 435 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece, and erected in the Temple of Zeus there. Zeus was the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who ruled as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. The statue was a chryselephantine sculpture of ivory plates and gold panels on a wooden framework. Zeus sat on a painted cedarwood throne ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold and precious stones. The statue was lost and destroyed during the 5th century AD – details of its form are known only from ancient Greek descriptions and representations on coins.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, resembling a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks. It was said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq. The Hanging Gardens’ name is derived from the Greek word κρεμαστός (kremastós, lit. ’overhanging’), which has a broader meaning than the modern English word “hanging” and refers to trees being planted on a raised structure such as a terrace.
The amazing works of art and architecture known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World serve as a testament to the ingenuity, imagination and sheer hard work of which human beings are capable. They are also, however, reminders of the human capacity for disagreement, destruction and, possibly, embellishment.
The list covered only the sculptural and architectural monuments of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, which then comprised the known world for the Greeks. Hence, extant sites beyond this realm were not considered as part of contemporary accounts.