The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
The Egyptian pharaoh Khufu built the Great Pyramid in about 2560 BC in Giza which is on the border of modern-day Cairo. The pharaoh built it to be his tomb. This is the only surviving wonder of the Seven Ancient Wonders suggested by the Greek scholars about 2200 years ago.
The Great Pyramid is the largest of three Pyramids at Giza, and is composed of 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each averaging 2, 5 tons in weight. In spite of the fact that the pyramid builders had very simple surveying tools, no side is more than 20 centimetres different in length than another, and the whole structure is perfectly oriented to the points of the compass.
The pyramid was 145 metres tall but these days it is actually a bit shorter because of weathering. Until the 19th century it was the tallest building in the world and, at the age of 4,500 years, it was probably the earth’s tallest human-made structure for most of this time.
The Lighthouse of Alexandra, Egypt
This is the only ancient wonder that actually worked. It was a beacon for ships in the dangerous waters off the Egyptian port city of Alexandria which is now called El Iskandarîya.
It was built on small island of Pharos between 285 and 247 BC. For many centuries this was the tallest building in the world! It was about 117 metres tall, the same as a modern day 40-story building. Imagine building this without machinery or electricity or anything modern.
The way the lighthouse worked was that there was an enormous fire at night and during the day huge polished bronze mirrors reflected the sun. It is said the light could be seen for more than 50 kilometres out to sea.
This huge lighthouse dominated the Mediterranean coastline for over 1 500 years before it was seriously damaged by earthquakes in 1303 and 1323 AD.
The Colossus of Rhodes, Greece
This towering figure represented the Greek sun god Helios which was the island’s patron god. It was made of stone and iron and had an outer skin of bronze. It looked out from the Mandráki Harbor on the Mediterranean island of Ródos (Rhodes); Historians once thought the statute stood over the entrance to the harbour. This is no longer believed to be true.
The Colossus stood was 113 metres high and it was the tallest known statue of the ancient world. It was built to celebrate the unification of the island's three city-states, which successfully resisted a long war by the Antigonids of Macedonia
The pyramids have survived for over 4 thousand years whereas Colossus has lasted the shortest time. It had taken them 12 years (finished in 282 BC) to build and 56 years later it was destroyed by an earthquake. The statute was snapped at the knees.
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece
The massive gold statue of the king of the Greek gods was built in honour of the original Olympic Games, which was started in the ancient city of Olympia.
The statue was made by the classical sculptor Phidias in around 432 BC it sat on a jewel-encrusted wooden throne inside a temple which looked over the city. The 12m figure held a sceptre in one hand and a small statue of the goddess of victory, Nike, in the other. These were both made from ivory and precious metals.
The temple was closed when the Olympics were banned as a pagan practice by the Christians in 391AD. Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The statue was eventually destroyed, although historians are not sure how. They don’t if it was destroyed with the temple or if it was moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in Turkey and burned in a fire.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Iraq
It is thought that the hanging gardens stood on the banks of the Euphrates River in the Mesopotamian desert, now in modern-day Iraq. The gardens were terraced around 600 BC at the royal palace of King Nebuchadnezzar
It was said that the gardens were made to please the king's wife, who missed the lush greenery of her homeland in the Medes, which is now northern Iran.
Archaeologists are not sure that the gardens actually existed and can’t agree on the likely site of the hanging gardens. There are findings in the region that could be its remains which include the foundations of a palace and a nearby vaulted building with an irrigation well.
The most detailed descriptions of the gardens come from Greek historians. There is no mention of them in ancient Babylonian records.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Turkey
The famous tomb at Halicarnass was built between 370 and 350 BC for King Mausolus of Caria; this is now the city of Bodrum in a region in the southwest of modern Turkey. Legend says that the king's grieving wife Artemisia II had the tomb built as a memorial to their love.
Mausolus was a governor in the Persian Empire. This famous tomb is the source of the word "mausoleum." The tomb was 40 metres long and 45 metres tall.
It was most admired for its architectural beauty and splendour. The central burial chamber was decorated in gold, while the outside was covered with beautiful stone friezes and sculptures. These were made by four Greek artists.
The mausoleum stood intact until the early 1400s. Then the Christian Crusaders arrived and dismantled it for building material for a new castle. Some of the sculptures and frieze sections were left intact and survived. They can be seen today at the British Museum in London.
The Temple of Artemis, Turkey
This is a great marble temple which was dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis. They finished building it in around 550 B.C. at Ephesus, which these days Is near the modern-day town of Selçuk in Turkey.
The temple was huge. It had 120 columns which stood 20 metres high. In those days it is believed that the temple held many beautiful artworks which included bronze statues of the Amazons. The Amazons were a mythical race of female warriors.
A man, Herostratus apparently burnt down the temple in 356 B.C. because he wanted his name to always be remembered but the temple was restored and then again destroyed by the Goths in A.D. 262 and restored and then again destroyed by the Christians in A.D. 401 on the orders of the archbishop of Constantinople (Istanbul).
Today the temple's foundations have been excavated and some of its columns re-built. Will this last? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OoBwP2gvHA