The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World have kept alive the flame of intrigue and great traveling dreams . So let’s dive into his exciting story.
When the Greeks traveled throughout the Mediterranean throughout their powerful empire, moved by the interest of discovering their important legacy and that of previous civilizations such as the Egyptians , Persians and Babylonians , they began to make recommendations to other tourists about what they were the constructions worthy of being contemplated for their great beauty and spectacularity.
In the 3rd century B.C. C. Alexandria was the most important city in the world and its iconic library, the “center of knowledge” . It was in this great Egyptian city where the official list of the 7 wonders of the ancient world was drawn up for the first time by Callimachus , with the aim of giving voice to the tastes of Greek travelers. His book has not survived to this day, but the later text of the 2nd century B.C. C. of Antipater of Sidon, where each of them is described with great poetic subtlety. Said inventory was modified over the years according to the taste or the fashions of the moment, until the definitive selection was established in the Renaissance . It is then that the Dutch painter Maerten Van Heemskerck was commissioned to represent them as faithfully as possible through engravings.
And why 7? It seems that this number was symbolic in those times due to its great spiritual connotation; 7 days a week in Babylon; the 7 days of the 4 lunar phases of the lunar month or the belief that there were 7 planets .
Undoubtedly, these sculptural and architectural works from ancient times represent the paradigm of human talent led to excellence. Built on a colossal scale to overwhelm the beholder, they have been catapulted to success by their exquisite lavishness and sense of aesthetics. It was thus that an Egyptian pyramid and lighthouse , a mausoleum , some gardens , a temple and two colossal sculptures were raised with the title of wonders of the ancient world , understood as the seven places that had to be visited at least once in a lifetime .
Except for the Great Tomb of Pharaoh Cheops , which has won the challenge of time, the other wonders have been lost, but they are still present in the imagination of any lover of architecture and sculpture who recognizes the merit of having created them without machinery. and the advances of modernity.
What is clear is that there was a glorious time in which they were majestic, adorning and empowering each of their cities. Then, the heat of history caused them to be lost, taking many of the secrets of their construction with them to the grave. This mystery has been responsible for much of its charm.
The 7 wonders of the ancient world arranged in chronological order were:
1. THE GREAT PYRAMID OF GIZA:
Located on the Giza Plateau , just outside the Egyptian capital of Cairo , the Great Pyramid is the only one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World still standing. Completed in the year 2550 a. approximately , it took more than 100,000 Egyptians, 2.3 million limestone blocks of 2.5 tons and 23 years, to carry out this superb building designed by the architect Hemiunu and ordered to be built by the famous Pharaoh Cheops for be his royal tomb and ensure his passage to eternal life.
It shows off a geometrically perfect shape with a square base, 4 smooth triangular faces and an angled vertex. Its imposing dimensions of 230 m wide and 145 m high gave it the honor of being the tallest building in the world for 3,800 years, until it was surpassed in the 14th century by the spire of Lincoln Cathedral in England .
The lack of written documentation on the construction of the pyramid means that it is not really known what techniques were carried out for its erection. This is a subject that has aroused true fascination, hence there are many theories about it along with great enigmas , myths and legends . Fortunately, it has survived triumphantly and undaunted over the centuries and today you can visit and access its bowels to slip through the corridors and antechambers until you reach the pharaoh’s burial chamber , where the red granite sarcophagus is located.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops, together with that of his son Khafre and his grandson Menkaure , form a unique image on the desert horizon of Giza , worthy of being admired by any self-respecting traveler. Its creation is sublime and the monumental complex is considered one of the most beautiful and impressive in the entire History of Humanity .
2. THE HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON :
The most famous gardens in the world were built in the 6th century BC. C. in the most spectacular city on earth at that time, Babylon , present -day Iraq .
King Nebuchadnezzar II , to alleviate the nostalgia that his beloved queen Amitis of Media felt for the fertile mountainous landscape of his land, ordered these famous gardens to be built in his palace. They consisted of vaulted terraces of baked brick supported one on the other on pillars and full of exotic plants and trees such as willows , oaks , coconuts , banana trees or palms . A reservoir at the top provided water to this incredible orchard from the Euphrates River , which flowed at the foot of the hill.
In this work of delicate beauty, the green of the plants and the rich colors of the flowers and fruits brought a note of joy and fresh scent to the monotonous and flat desert environment. The Gardens of Babylon represented a true feat of horticulture at that time. In addition, it is the only one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world whose true existence has been questioned.
3. THE TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS:
Built in the ancient city of Ephesus , in present-day Turkey , the largest port in the Aegean, the Temple of Artemis was the largest marble sanctuary on the planet dedicated to the Greek goddess of fertility, hunting, and war, Artemis , daughter of Zeus .
King Croesus of Lydia commissioned the design of the temple to the Cretan architect Quersifron in the 6th century BC. C. and the statues of the same to the talented sculptor Scopas . As the work lasted up to 120 years , his son Metagenes had to take over the baton for its construction . It had impressive dimensions of 110 m long by 55 m wide and was surrounded by 127 fluted columns 18 m high forming a double row. The 2 meter statueof the goddess was made of wood covered with silver and gold and was erected in the open sky on a canopy. For some authors of the time, the Temple of Artemis was described as the most beautiful wonder of the ancient world of all.
We will have to settle for imagining its splendor in what was the most important port in the Aegean , since only a few remains and a standing column remain in its place. This has not diminished the desire to visit the city of Ephesus , which after being Greek, became Roman and later Byzantine, offering the traveler many other priceless archaeological treasures.
The night of the birth of Alexander the Great in the year 356 B.C. C. , a madman eager for fame burned it down, reducing the temple to rubble. The great conqueror later rebuilt it, but lost interest when many of the Ephesians converted to Christianity. From then on, the building was destined for pagan uses. Finally the Romans used it as a quarry and in the 6th century , 8 of the columns that were saved from looting traveled to Constantinople to rest in Hagia Sophia .
4. THE ZEUS OF OLYMPIA:
Another of the wonders of the ancient world was the gigantic 12 m high chryselephantine statue that represented the supreme god Zeus in the Greek city of Olympia , site of famous athletic competitions. It was made by Phidias in the year 430 a. C. using ivory, solid gold and precious stones.
The brilliant architect of the time had previously achieved glory throughout the Greek empire thanks to the construction of the sculpture of the goddess Athena Parthenos erected in the Parthenon of Athens , whose Acropolis can be visited and stands as a reliable symbol of the great splendor that classical Greece lived . His privileged mind led him to invent an astute ivory carving technique. This consisted of softening it to extract sheets and mold them to the exact size.
In the representations that have been made of this image of Zeus of Olympia , the figure completely occupies one of the walls of the main room inside this Doric-style temple dedicated to the divinity. He appears seated on the throne, bare-chested and a robe covering his legs. His hair is long and wavy and in his hands he holds the symbols of power, victory and the scepter . Its large size, its brutal realism and the spectacular shine given off by the materials used, made locals and strangers dedicate all kinds of praise to it when they stood in front of it.
450 years later, the Emperor Caligula ordered his transfer to Rome . His idea was to remove his head and place a reproduction of his in his place. Legend has it that when the workers were preparing to do it, they fled in terror at the loud laugh that the god uttered. But the real reason that stopped this ignominy was the assassination of the Roman emperor. The statue was transferred to Constantinople in the year 394 and unfortunately it was destroyed in a fire.
5. THE MAUSOLEUM OF HALICARNASUS:
In the ancient city of the Persian Empire called Halicarnassus , which today is Bodrum and belongs to present-day Turkey , the famous mausoleum was built on a small hill overlooking the port between 353 BC. C. and 350 a. C. _
The Greek architects Satyr of Paros and Pytheus designed this imposing white marble tomb from Marmara at the request of the wife of the satrap king of the Persian empire Mausolus , whose name spawned the later creation of the term mausoleum as a funerary structure.
43 m high , 4 floors and a roof crowned by a statue of the king and his wife Artemisia in a chariot drawn by 4 horses , it was the result of a mixture of various architectural styles. At the top, the 6 m quadriga with the royal couple rested on a 12 m triangular roof inspired by the pyramids. Below this stood 117 12 m high Ionic columns arranged in a double row and characteristic of Greek temples, under which 2 staggered floors of a quadrangular plan and 13 m high were placed. , whose frieze was decorated with bas-reliefs inspired by battles between centaurs and Amazons. Lastly, 443 freestanding statues made by the best sculptors of the time such as Timoteo , Leocares and Scopas adorned the windowsills.
Mausolus was not able to see his finished tomb and neither was his promoter Artemisia II of Caria . She died two years after her husband, but before she was able to contribute to the monument the rich trousseau that would accompany them in the afterlife.
The Halicarnassus Mausoleum was a unique construction worthy of being considered one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world due to the maximum elegance and originality of its design, but its life was short. Only 16 years old could locals and visitors enjoy this revolutionary building, which was also the least durable of all.
He perished in 369 B.C. C. when Alexander the Great took the city. The few remains that remained standing collapsed with the earthquake of 1404 and were later reused to build the castle of San Pedro .
6. THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES:
The Greek island of Rhodes had the privilege of hosting another of the 7 wonders of the ancient world . The colossus was a huge statue 32 meters high and weighing 70 tons made up of assembled bronze pieces. It represented Helios , the Greek god of the sun and was designed by Cares of Lindos between 294 and 282 BC. C. _ as a commission to celebrate the victory over the enemy before the strong siege of Demetrius I , king of Macedonia . Its price? 300 talents .
The image of this great sculptural feat that has been recreated is that of a gigantic and impressive statue of Helios that stands at the foot of the port of Rhodes . It presents an athletic body, its right arm raised carrying a torch and on its head a crown with golden rays pointing to the sun. It should be noted that the brilliant sculptor developed an ingenious technique of which he was a pioneer. Thanks to her, he was able to shape the huge bronze pieces before they were assembled.
But the truth is that there are still different hypotheses about his body posture and his exact location. While some theories place it in the port, others do so in the Acropolis , next to the sanctuary of the god. On the other hand, some connoisseurs represent her with her legs apart in order to allow the passage of ships arriving at the port. Instead, others reject this version by stating that in this position she would never have supported her own weight.
The Colossus of Rhodes was a truly impressive work that captivated the viewer due to its size and unique bearing. Once again and unfortunately, the relentless action of an earthquake around the year 226 a. C. , ended with this great wonder of the ancient world that only stood for 56 years. This fact did not prevent people from continuing to flock to the city to visit it. The reason is that their remains rested in the ground for another 800 years, causing the same surprise and fascination among people.
7. THE LIGHTHOUSE OF ALEXANDRIA:
The most famous lighthouse on the planet was built between 285 and 247 BC. C. on the island of Pharos , opposite the Egyptian city of Alexandria , which was at that time a very important maritime port open to the Mediterranean and known as the “center of knowledge” for its famous library.
This elegant granite and limestone building, about 120 m high , was the work of the Ionian architect Sostrato de Cnido under the reign of Kings Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II .
On a square base stood an octagonal tower topped with a large mirror to reflect the sunlight during the day. While at night, a pyre of firewood and resin was lit with the aim of projecting its light up to 50 km out to sea and guiding the navigators who approached the coast.
The Alexandria Lighthouse was the last wonder of the ancient world built. It is the tallest building on the planet during the era after the Great Pyramid . Symbol of the city, the imposing structure of the also called Faro de Faros , enraptured everyone who laid eyes on it. In the fourteenth century , the action of several violent earthquakes brought it down. Some of its remains fell into the sea and others were scattered around the port, being reused to build the citadel a century later. If you also want to know all the details about the new 7 wonders of the modern world, don’t forget to visit our post about them.