What Are The Seven Wonders Of The World?

What are the seven wonders of the world? When the surviving list of the Seven Wonders of the World was compiled in the Middle Ages, the seven structures were believed to be the greatest examples of architecture in the world to date.

When the surviving list of the Seven Wonders of the World was compiled during the Middle Ages, the structures listed were believed to be the greatest examples of architecture in the world. Earlier lists contained other structures but these lists were either destroyed, lost or altered. The historian and poet Antipater compiled a list of seven structures that is close to the list that remains today except that his list included the Walls of Babylon instead of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The list of the Seven Wonders of the World include:

---The Great Pyramid of Giza

---The Colossus of Rhodes

---The Lighthouse of Alexandria (aka The Pharos Lighthouse)

---The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

---Statue of Zeus at Olympia

---The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

---Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus

The choice of these particular structures took into account architecture as well as engineering excellence.

THE GREAT PYRAMID OF GIZA

This is the only entry on the Seven Wonders list that still survives. It was erected in the ancient city of Giza, which is now part of Cairo, Egypt. It is commonly believed that this entry refers to all the pyramids, however, only the Great Pyramid of Khofu is considered one of the Seven Wonders. This structure was built by Egyptian pharoah Khofu (Cheops) as a final resting place. Today, this pyramid is enclosed in a region of the Giza plateau along with the other pyramids and The Sphinx, in a general tourist area.

When built, this pyramid was approximately 480 feet high. Over the years, about thirty feet have eroded from the top. This pyramid took over two million blocks of stone, each weighing over two tons, to construct. Inside the pyramid is a complicated maze of corridors and shafts leading to and from the burial chamber.

Theories abound that the pyramids were constructed as observatories or temples of worship. However, the overriding conclusion is that all of the pyramids were constructed as tombs for Egyptian kings and their families to rest until their journey into the afterlife.

THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES

This huge statue only stood for 56 years before being destroyed. This structure was approximately 110 feet high and stood near the entrance of the harbor of the island of Rhodes in Greece. It is a popular belief that the statue straddled the harbor yet modern research has concluded that this was not at all accurate, considering the recorded measurements of the statue and of the harbor entrance.

The actual construction took over 12 years to complete and was finished in 282 BC. In 226 BC, a strong earthquake damaged both the city and the statue, breaking the huge structure off at one knee. Ptolemy III of Egypt offered the people of Rhodes money to pay for the restoration of the statue but, after consulting an oracle who forbade that the statue be repaired, the people would not agree to restore the structure. The statue lay in ruins until Arab invaders dissembled the remaining pieces and sold them in 654 AD.

Actual drawings of the shape and appearance of the statue do not remain although numerous artists have made various depictions of the statue. It is known that the base was of white marble with an iron and stone framework.

THE MAUSOLEUM AT HALICARNASSUS

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was built around 350 BC in the city of Bodrum (Halicarnassus) in what is now southwest Turkey. This structure was built by King Massollos of Caria to serve as the place of entombment for himself and his wife after death.

The mausoleum stood over 140 feet high and was lavishly decorated with intricately carved statues of both humans and animals of all sizes. It was designed by architects Satyrus and Pythias, with the carvings done by Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopast and Timotheus, each of which was responsible for one of the four walls.

The Mausoleum stood for over 1600 years until a major earthquake damaged the roof and colonnade. The structure was damaged again when the region was invaded in the early fifteenth century. At this time a massive castle was erected with many of the stones of the mausoleum. This castle still stands in Bodrum. The only remnant of the mausoleum structure that remains is the foundation. Some of the sculptures salvaged from the mausoleum are on display in the British Museum in London, England.

The term "mausoleum", which came to mean "place of entombment", was taken from the name of King Massollos, who constructed this Seventh Wonder as his final resting place.



TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS AT EPHESUS

The Temple of Artemis was located in the ancient city of Ephesus near what is now Turkey. It was constructed around 550 BC as a tribute to the god Artemis (Diana) and was used as both a religious sanctuary and as a marketplace.

This temple was designed by father and son architects Chersiphron and Metagenes. It was marble with a tile-covered wood roof, overlooking a huge courtyard. Inside the temple were statues and paintings by the most skilled artists of the time. The foundation measured approximately 200 by 400 feet with columns from 40 to 60 feet high.

In 356 BC, the temple was burned to the ground. It was then restored on the same foundation but this second temple was also destroyed by fire in 262 AD and was not restored. A few of the relics of the temple remained and are now on display at the British Museum in London, England.

STATUE OF ZEUS AT OLYMPIA

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia is considered by some to be the greatest work of Greek sculpture. It was carved in 457 BC by the sculptor Pheidas in the ancient city of Olympia (now Athens, Greece). This is the site where the original Olympic games were held.

The statue stood about 40 feet high and depicted the god Zeus seated on a throne draped in a golden robe, holding a figure of the messenger of Zeus, Nike (victory), in the right hand. The statue was housed inside the Temple of Zeus.

In the first century AD, Roman emperor Caligula ordered that the statue be moved to Rome. This attempt failed, however, when the scaffolding used to transport the statue proved inadequate and collapsed.

In 351 AD, the Olympic games were banned as being pagan and the Temple of Zeus was closed. The statue was then moved to Constantinople by a group of wealthy Greeks and remained there until 462 AD when it was destroyed by fire.

Only a few fallen columns and the foundation remain at the site of the temple.

THE LIGHTHOUSE OF ALEXANDRIA

The Lighthouse of Alexandria of Pharos Lighthouse, was built in 270 BC. It was located on the island of Pharos in the harbor of Alexandria, Egypt. The architect Sostratus designed the lighthouse during the reign of King Ptolemy II.

The lighthouse stood approximately 400 feet high and had a statue of Poseidon at its summit. The lighthouse guided sailors into the harbor for over 1500 years and was the last of the "lost" wonders to disappear.

At the top of the lighthouse, a mirror reflected sunlight during the day. At night, a huge fire guided sailors. It is said that the mirror reflection from the lighthouse could be seen for more that 35 miles offshore.

Two earthquakes, in 1303 and 1323, severely damaged the lighthouse. In 1480, the stone and marble of the lighthouse was used to build a fort on the same spot where the lighthouse had stood.

THE HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON

There is a great deal of controversy concerning the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Some historians doubt that they ever existed and are merely an invention of ancient storytellers.

Supposedly built around 600 BC, it is said that these gardens were located on the east bank of the Euphrates River, which also served to irrigate the gardens. This site is what is known now as Baghdad, Iraq. It is also said that they were built by King Nebuchadnezzar for one of his favorite wives, who was particularly fond of exotic trees and foliage.

The Hanging Gardens are usually depicted as having multiple terraces and waterfalls in which all types of exotic plants and flowers were grown. It is believed that exotic animals were also imported to this location. Among those who believe in the existence of the gardens, there is still much controversy as to the magnitude, although many ancient Greek writings give accounts of the gardens being up to 400 feet square and up to 100 feet high.

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