old seven wonders of the world

What are the old seven wonders of the world?

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(Last updated on: 02/04/2020)

The old seven wonders of the world are fascinating marvels of history! When we travel we love to visit a ‘wonder’ (as described by Karl Pilkington in one of my favourite travel shows- An Idiot Abroad). Whilst most of the old seven wonders of the world no longer exist, it is still wonderful to visit the areas and to see the related museums, attractions etc tat stand in their place nowadays.

But what are the old seven wonders of the world, I hear you say? All is revealed in this post…

What are the old seven wonders of the world?

The old seven wonders of the world were structural monuments across the world that were prominent markers in history, and built during various ancient reigns.

In 225 BC, Philo of Byzantium first spoke of them in his work On The Seven Wonders. They were defined by him as ‘themata’, which is Greek for ‘things to be seen’.

Only one of the old seven wonders of the world still exists today! 

Here’s a run down of all seven…

The old seven wonders of the world

Below is a summary of the the old seven wonders of the world. Some remain standing, others have been restored or completely destroyed. But whatever their current state, the area where the original wonder once stood is absolutely worth a visit to learn more about it!

#1 Great Pyramid at Giza

Egyptian pyramid facts
The pyramids of Giza

This is the one ancient wonder that still exists today, and is visited by thousands upon thousands of tourists every year.

The pyramid was built between 2584 and 2561 BC for Khufu, the Egyptian Pharaoh – also known as Cheops.

Ancient writers only had the outside to go on, as excavation didn’t really start until the late 18th century. Therefore, it was the structure of the pyramid itself that impressed them so much.

The Great Pyramid was the tallest building in the world until the 14th century, and is perfectly aligned with the Orion constellation.

#2 The Statue of Zeus at Olympia 

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Depicting Zeus sat on a throne, with ivory skin and hammered gold robes, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia was 12 metres (40 feet) tall. It was made by Phidias, the great Greek sculpture who also worked on the statue of Athena as well as the Parthenon.

The statue was designed to inspire people who came to worship at the Temple of Zeus. Due to the rise of Christianity and the banning of the ancient Olympic Games, the temple fell into ruin and disrepair.

The statue was moved to Constantinople and was destroyed a short time later by an earthquake.

#3 The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Exploring the Roman ruins at Ephesus

According to writers, the temple was so magnificent that it was named as one of the most amazing structures ever raised by humans – hence being placed on the list of the old seven wonders of the world!

The temple took around 120 years to build, finally being completed in 550 BC. It was sponsored by King Croesus of Lydia, an incredibly wealthy king, and was huge. At 129 metres long (425ft) and 69 metres wide (225 feet), with 18 metre high columns – 127 of them – the Temple of Artemis was jaw-dropping.

In 356 BC the temple was set on fire by Herostratus, who wanted to be remembered forever in connected with the destruction of something so incredible. Coincidentally, Alexander the Great was born that night and later offered to rebuild the temple. The people of Ephasus refused, but did have the temple rebuilt after his death.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was destroyed again by the Goths, rebuilt and finally destroyed for good by a Christian mob in 401 AD.

#4 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

King Nebuchadnezzar II built these spectacular gardens at some time between 605-562 BC as a gift for his wife, Amtis of Media.

The story goes that she missed her homeland, lush as it was with mountains and flowers. So, the king arranged for a self-watering area of exotic plants be created. However, there is no record of the gardens elsewhere in Babylonian history, nor are they mentioned by Herodotus in his descriptions of Babylon – so some people are unsure about their existence, which has always been a slight controversy amongst historians.

If the gardens did exist, they were said to have reached heights of over 23 metres (75 feet) and were destroyed by an earthquake at some point after the 1st century.

This video discusses whether the gardens were real…

#5 The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes

Overlooking the harbour of Rhodes, this impressive statue was over 33 metres (110 feet) high.

It was a statue of the god Helios, constructed between 292 and 230 BC and commissioned after the defeat of the invading army of Demetrius a few years earlier.

He had left a lot of his weapons and equipment behind, which the Rhodians sold off. They used the money to build the Colossus, which is now forever remembered in history as one of the old seven wonders of the world.

However, it only stood for 56 years. In 226 BC, the Colossus was destroyed by an earthquake and lay in ruins for over 800 years before the bronze ruins were sold and melted down.

#6 The Lighthouse of Alexandria

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Located on the island of Pharos, the Lighthouse of Alexandria stood at 134 metres (440ft) tall.

It was commissioned by Ptolemy I, and completed around 280 BC. Other than the two largest pyramids at Giza, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world at the time.

The light it gave off, created by a mirror during the day and a fire at night, could be seen up to 35 miles out at sea.

Like many of the old seven wonders of the world, it was damaged by earthquakes in 956 AD, 1303 AD, and 1323 AD. By 1480 AD it was gone, and Pharos is now home to the Egyptian fort of Quiatbey – built with some of the stones that once made the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

#7 Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

This was the tomb of Mausolus, the Persian Satrap, built in Halicarnassus at around 351 BC.

Mausolus chose this as his capital city, and spent a long time with his wife Artemisia creating a city whose beauty would forever be unmatched.

Mausolus died in 353 BC, and his wife wanted to create a final resting place that lived up to his worth so she commissioned the Mausoleum. When she died just a few years after Mausolus, her ashes were entombed there too.

The tomb itself was 41 metres (135ft) tall, and decorated with incredible sculptures.

Ruined by earthquakes in the years that followed, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was dismantled in 1494 AD.

The Knights of St. John of Malta used the stones when building their castle at Bodrum. You can still see these ancient stones if you want to get close to another of the old seven wonders of the world!

So there is everything you might want to know about the old seven wonders of the world! Seven incredible feats of human ingenuity and engineering, and structures that were truly awe-inspiring to those lucky enough to see them before their eventual destruction.

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