Seven wonders of the ancient world

The seven wonders of the world are architectural and artistic works that have gone down in history for their extraordinary nature. Unfortunately, only one of these treasures of the ancient world remains today. Let’s take a look at these famous monuments.

Throughout history, human civilizations have built many monuments around the world. And despite often rudimentary means, some of these works turned out to be quite extraordinary. Thanks to their impressive dimensions, seven of them have even gone down in history under the famous list of the seven wonders of the world.

The origin of this list remains unclear and several variants seem to have existed over the centuries. Nevertheless, many writings and traveler’s accounts, in particular, attest to the existence of these seven monuments of which only one remains at present. This is the list of the seven wonders:

1 – Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops Pyramid)
Built-in Memphis (Giza today) in Egypt in the third millennium BC, this square-based pyramid was for a long time the highest and most massive ever built. It is the oldest but also the only wonder to have managed to cross the ages today. And it continues to intrigue archaeologists who wonder about the methods used to build it.

2 – The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The construction of the hanging gardens of Babylon would go back to the 6th century BC and would be the work of Nebuchadnezzar II, then king of the Neo-Babylonian empire, who would have built this marvel to remind his wife of his native country. Although many excavations have been carried out in Babylon (in present-day Iraq), no trace of the existence of these gardens has been found.

3 – The chryselephantine statue of Zeus in Olympia
This statue of Zeus would have been built in Greece in the 5th century BC and would be the work of the sculptor Phidias. Made of gold and ivory, it represented the god sitting on his throne and would have, according to the writings, enjoyed great fame in the Greek world. It would have disappeared in a fire in the 5th century after being moved to Constantinople.

4 – the Temple of Diana
This temple built in Ionia (modern Turkey) in the 6th century BC was described as the largest sanctuary dedicated to Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting. In addition to its colossal dimensions, the writings also mention its rich decorations which would have contributed to its fame. The monument would have disappeared in a voluntary fire in – 356 before being rebuilt then destroyed again in the 5th century.

5 – The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Dating back to the 4th century BC, this monument was built in honor of Mausoleus, governor of Caria, a region of Asia Minor which was then part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (in modern Turkey). The building was famous for its size but especially for its decoration and the sculptures that adorned it. It fell into ruins from the 12th century and eventually fell into oblivion.

6 – The Colossus of Rhodes
This bronze statue representing the god Helios would have been built on the Greek island of Rhodes in the 3rd century BC. The Colossus of Rhodes was famous for its gigantic size which, according to some writings, exceeded thirty meters. Unfortunately, it would have been a victim of an earthquake, hardly one century later, which would have made it fall in pieces. Although texts suggest that the broken statue would have remained in place for several centuries, no trace of it remains today.

7 – The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The construction of the Alexandria lighthouse in Egypt dates back to the 3rd century BC and would have lasted about fifteen years. The building with its imposing dimensions aimed at guiding sailors along the coast of Alexandria. Although damaged over the centuries, it would have lasted until the 14th century before being destroyed.

Animations to virtually recreate the seven wonders of the world
Although the appearance of these monuments is still subject to debate, the company Budget Direct and NeoMam Studios had fun recreating them virtually. They developed animations showing what the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, or the Gardens of Babylon would look like in today’s landscape.

If only one of these wonders of the ancient world remains today, our planet is home to many others. In 2007, the New Seven Wonders Foundation launched a vote by Internet users to establish the seven new Wonders of the World from a list of 21 sites. The winners were :
-the Great Wall of China,
-the Machu Picchu,
-the Taj Mahal,
-the Colosseum,
-the city of Petra,
-the statue of Christ the Redeemer,
-the city of Chichén Itzá.
In a special edition published on newsstands in December 2018, the editorial staff of GEO also lent themselves to the game! Among the hundreds of places we’ve visited in the magazine’s 40-year history, we elected our seven wonders of the world, the seven most fascinating sites in human history that deserve to be discovered.