The 7 Ancient Wonders

The idea to compile a list of the world’s most amazing places and things goes back to ancient times. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was a collection of spectacular ancient sights that were described by authors in guidebooks and poems of the time.

Of those original Seven Wonders, only one, the Great Pyramid of Giza, still stands.

One of the Seven Wonders may not have even existed—there's speculation that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon where merely the subject of myth.

Most of the wonders, however, are quite tangible, in that there's significant historical and archeological evidence pointing to what they looked like, when they were built, and who built them. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is a good example. In the 19th century, British archaeologists were able to locate the structure's walls, a staircase, and corners of the foundation.

That old tomb is a good place to start. Read on to learn more about the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the other Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Reconstitutions of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which was built between 353 and 350 BC, in present-day Turkey, was a tomb built for a Persian provincial governor and his wife. Designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene, the Mausoleum was about 148 ft tall, with ornate sides featuring sculptural reliefs.

Like other ancient wonders, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was destroyed by a series of earthquakes. It happened between the 12th and 15th century.

Colossus of Rhodes, artist's impression, 1880

The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes was built around 280 BC, by Chares of Lindos, on the Greek island of Rhodes. The massive statue of the Greek sun-god, Helios, was constructed in celebration of Rhodes' victory over the ruler of Cyprus.

It was the tallest statue of the ancient world, standing about as high as the Statue of Liberty.

The Colossus of Rhodes loomed over the port city for 54 years, until, in 226 BC, it broke at the knees, collapsing as the result of an earthquake, which also destroyed the harbor and many buildings.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

In El Giza, Egypt sits the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza. It's also the only one you can still visit.

The Great Pyramid is the oldest and largest of three pyramids on the site. It's made from limestone and granite, and towers 481 ft high. That may not seem tall by today's standards, but it was enough to make the Great Pyramid of Giza the tallest man-made structure in the world, and it held that record for 3,800 years!

Scientists think the pyramid was built as a tomb around 2560 BC and that construction took between 10 and 20 years. It has three interior chambers, the lowest being cut into the ground, with the Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber situated higher in the structure.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Reconstitutions of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, supposedly built around 605-562 BC, in present day Iraq, consisted of a cleverly engineered series of tiered gardens featuring trees, shrubs, and vines.

The Gardens' construction has been credited to various members of Babylonian royalty, but very little is actually known about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Their location is not known, and there's no archaeological evidence that they even existed. Scholars have come to believe that they were either completely mythical, they existed but were destroyed around the first century AD, or that historical references to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are, in fact, referring to a different garden that was known to be built by the Assyrian King Sennacherib in Nineveh.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

The Lighthouse of Alexandria was built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom around 280–247 BC. Towering 330 ft, it held the distinction of being one of the tallest man-made structures in the world for centuries.

Taking twelve years to erect, the Lighthouse was an impressive achievement and was a prototype for lighthouses around the world. The light came from a furnace located at the top.

Images of the structure were added to coins minted in Alexandria in the second century.

Three earthquakes occurred between AD 956 and 1323 that badly damaged the Lighthouse of Alexandria, and it turned into an abandoned ruin. To the builder's credit, it stood longer than four of the other ancient wonders, bested by only the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Statue of Zeus

The Statue of Zeus, constructed around 435 BC in Greece, had the god seated on an ornate throne. It was about 43 ft tall and made, in part, from ivory and gold.

A Greek sculptor named Phidias had a reputation for making great statues, with his huge statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon being a prime example. So, when the Eleans, custodians of the Olympic Games, wanted to commission a statue that would show up their rivals in Athens, they contacted Phidias.

He built the Statue of Zeus using as wooden frame covered with ivory plates and gold panels, and Zeus' throne was decorated with precious stones, ebony, and more ivory and gold.

Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient goddess. Artemis was honored with shrines, temples, and festivals all over the ancient Greek world, but the Ephesians, who built Temple of Artemis, felt that the goddess belonged exclusively to them, resenting others' devotion.

The temple was situated in present-day Turkey. Over the ages, it was rebuilt three times. The first version of the temple dates to the Bronze Age; construction of the final iteration started around 323 BC. By 401 AD, the Temple of Artemis had fallen for the last time.