The ancient Greeks loved art and architecture so much that they even made lists of monuments that impressed them. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is our name for their list of the greatest buildings in the world. A modern travel writer might have said, "The seven places to see before you die."
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The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders but it is the only one still standing. The Pharaoh Khufu built it in 2560 B.C. as his royal tomb. It is 481 feet tall and was the tallest building in the world until the 1800s. It is built of about 2 million stone blocks weighing between 2 and 30 tons.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of Babylon, supposedly built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon near the Euphrates River in modern Iraq as a gift to his homesick wife. According to the descriptions by several ancient Greek writers, the garden was planted on 75-foot tall square structures called terraces that were laid out like steps and partially supported by columns so that visitors could walk underneath them.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Greek city of Ephesus in modern-day Turkey was the site of several temples to the goddess Artemis. The architect Chersiphron built the most famous in 550 B.C. It featured 127 60-foot tall columns, a statue of Artemis and decorations by renown artists. It burnt down in 356 B.C but was rebuilt between 350 and 323 B.C. It was destroyed by Gothic invaders in 262.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Olympia, Greece was the site of the original Olympics. The Athenian sculptor Phidias built the 40-foot tall statue of Zeus at Olympia's Temple of Zeus in the 5th Century B.C. It was so tall its head nearly touched the temple's ceiling. It depicted the bare-chested god of thunder on a throne featuring armrests shaped like sphinxes and monsters with a woman's head and chest and a lion's body.
Lighthouse at Alexandria
Built on an island near Alexandria, Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy II around 270 B.C., the Lighthouse of Alexandria helped guide ships on the Nile River. It was destroyed by earthquakes between 956 and 1323 A.D. Archaeologists believe it was between 200 and 600 feet tall with a square base, octagonal middle and cylindrical top featuring a statue of either Ptolemy II or Alexander the Great.
Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus was a 100-foot bronze statue of the sun god Helios built on the island of Rhodes in 280 B.C. According to legend, the Rhodians sold tools and equipment left over from an invasion by the Macedonians to pay for the statue. The statue stood for over 60 years before being toppled by an earthquake. In 654, Arab invaders sold it for scrap.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was the tomb of Mausolus, King of Carnia in modern-day Turkey. His widow Artemis ordered its construction and it was finished in 350 B.C. The 135-foot high structure combined a rectangular base, a middle section constructed of columns and a pyramid-shaped roof. An earthquake destroyed it in the 12th century and its remains were used in a castle.
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