The "Seven Wonders of the World" are a popular topic in art history. They represent the most mystifying and grand man-made classical antiquity structures in the Ancient World. Its original and commonly accepted list dates back to sightseeing books in Greece during the Hellenic era. Antipater of Sidon is credited with the feature, which originated in the second century B.C. but was considered finalized in the Middle Ages.
Debate has arisen over classification, but it is important to consider the bias of the list makers. All of the wonders were beloved by travelers. Geographically, they were in places along the Eastern Mediterranean area, easily accessible to Greeks. Speculation has extended to question whether all seven actually existed. It certainly put history under the spotlight, showing how flimsy recovered artifacts can be if the creator is questionable.
History would take its toll. All but one location have survived destruction from human civilization, although efforts have been raised to restore the structures to their once glorious status. Like most of what Ancient Greeks did in their productive civilizations, this too has been referenced and replicated in modern society. From the Statue of Liberty to the internet itself, lists have sought to continue a tradition.
1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
This is the only one of the Seven Wonders to remain intact, allowing us to see what the Ancient Greeks fell in love with. It is one of three pyramids and at 479 feet tall remained the world's tallest structure until the Eiffel Tower in 1889. Man-made, it stands as a testament to what humans could do and the planning needed to reach its literal and theoretical heights.
Using two million blocks perfectly seamed together, it baffles observers. No known plans were left behind, enhancing its mysterious allure. Theories have ranged from there being wooden ramps to hydraulic power. One thing is for sure, resources and strength were needed from across the lands of present-day Cairo.
This is not a solid shape, but rather, habitable. Built for ruler Pharaoh Khufu, it has royal chambers and tomb sections. To present day, historians are constantly learning more about the pyramids. In just 2017 a void was discovered, causing more search and speculation.
2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
This is the aforementioned structure historians have questioned the existence of. While even the most destroyed pieces have left traces behind, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon have not left a trace for archeologists. Efforts have been strong, with a German team dedicating two decades of searching. Some have concluded it was all just a false image and speculation passed down like wildfire.
Others are not so sure that the effort dedicated to the Hanging Gardens was an error. Scholars have suggested it was built elsewhere and misattributed to Babylon due to shaky geographical territories. The earlier centuries were marked by constant conquests.
The 75-foot tall structure evokes a natural sense. With its dangling vegetation, it mixes architecture and green delights. Its free-flowing waterwheels supply water from the nearby river, requiring engineering methods. It is depicted in Greek and Roman art, but there are no first handwritten accounts. Rather, there are second-hand writings after its alleged desolation. Initially, it was said to be made by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife Amytis.
3. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Around 40 feet tall, it was located in the Temple of Zeus. At the time in Ancient Greece, cities were competing with each other. Art was a tool to show advancement and technique. Greeks believed the better dedicated and more temples, the more the Gods would adore them and grant wishes. This was very political in nature and used to establish status.
Its sizing was meant to show the Greek Olympian God of the universe in grandiose power. However, the proportions are interesting. Should he theoretically stand up from the throne, Zeus could not fit in a temple dedicated to him and what is supposed to be his home. This was more about image than functionality.
4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Built on the edges of the Greek world, its large stature and position showed those off-shore the glory of everything Greece was achieving. The temple was another example of dedication, this time to the hunt and moon Goddess Artemis. Mixing Greek and Eastern designs were common to its civilization.
Inside the temple, there are depictions of the Amazons. Those were powerful women reeking havoc on Greek civilization, causing trouble for heroes and Gods. The Amazons would be defeated, and like Medusa and the Centaurs, featured for Greek visitors on a platter. This was propagandistic, basking in the rich history of conquest and Greeks retaining balance in the world.
Greeks showed interest in the likes of Egypt and would even adopt mythical creatures such as sphinxes. The Temple of Artemis has a rather rough history. It was destroyed by a blaze, but later rebuilt, only to be destroyed again. Only ruins are visible on a trip to the city.
5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Mausoleums are large tombs and this one was specifically ordered by Artemisia for her husband king Maussollos. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus has all the hallmarking of a classical Greek building. However, this was made in the Roman era. Romans used Greek life as a reference point for their art, which would be continued with the Roman Empire being used in the Medieval Ages.
Sitting on a hill, Maussollos' tomb watched over his people and was a reference point to citizens. It was lavish in style and the best Greek artists were commissioned to make sculptures. The effort and power behind the tomb show how beloved the person was.
6. The Colossus of Rhodes
Greek cities usually had a God they worshiped and believed protected them. Athens had Athena, whereas the island of Rhodes had Helios. 110 feet tall, the statue stood firmly with a torch in hand. The Statue of Liberty in New York is simpler for modern reference. Greeting visitors at the entrance could see it.
But little information is known about the giant structure that lasted a mere 50 years. An earthquake caused it to break and it was decided not to rebuild it for luck. Hoping to refuel the Greek economy and make new jobs, plans have been proposed to rebuild the monument.
7. The Lighthouse (Pharos) of Alexandria
Built at Pharos, it was designed to assist sailors along Alexandria's busy routes. Its prime location allowed light to be seen from 35 miles away according to legend. Its 400-foot height – one of the world's tallest at the time – certainly helped. A fire was lit every evening and in the daytime, a mirror reflected the sun's light.
Built with white marble and reinforced with molten lead, it was defensive against the rapid sea waves. However, it was no match for other natural events. It endured numerous earthquakes before collapsing in the 1400s, with little rumble to be found. Its popularity has not be lost and even found Greek poet fanfare. Italian, French and Spanish use the word "Pharos" to mean lighthouse because of this structure.