Seven Wonders of the World, works of art and architecture regarded by ancient Greek and Roman observers as the most extraordinary structures of antiquity. Only one wonder of the seven, the pyramids of Egypt, still stands today.
Several lists of wonders were drawn up during antiquity. The list known today is sometimes ascribed to Antipater of Sidon, a writer of the 2nd century bc and author of a travel book. The wonders in this list were all located near the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and, except for the pyramids, were built in the four centuries from about 600 bc. The Seven Wonders are most often listed in the order in which they were built.
The Pyramids of Egypt were built on the west bank of the Nile River at Giza during the 4th Dynasty (about 2575 to about 2467 bc). The oldest of the seven wonders, the pyramids are the only one remaining nearly intact today. Their white stone facing was later removed for use as building material in Cairo. The largest of the pyramids is that of King Khufu, which is sometimes known as the Great Pyramid. It covers an area of over 4.8 hectares (12 acres). According to the Greek historian Herodotus, ten years were required to prepare the site and 100,000 laborers worked thereafter for 20 years to complete the pyramid, which contains the king’s tomb. Some lists include only the Great Pyramid, rather than all the pyramids (see Pyramids).
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, perhaps built by King Nebuchadnezzar II about 600 bc, were a mountainlike series of planted terraces. Ancient historians report that Babylon at that time was dazzling in the splendor of its palace and temple buildings, fortification walls, and paved processional ways. The Hanging Gardens consisted of several tiers of platform terraces built upon arches and extending to a great height. Accounts of their height range from about 24 m (80 ft) to a less reliable estimate of more than 90 m (300 ft). Trees and colorful plants and flowers grew on the terraces, irrigated with water brought up from the Euphrates River. Archaeologists have discovered remains of walls along the Euphrates that may have belonged to the Hanging Gardens.
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was carved in the mid-5th century bc by the Greek sculptor Phidias. The colossal statue was the central feature of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, the Greek sanctuary where the Olympic Games were held. It was considered to be Phidias’s masterpiece. The seated figure of Zeus, king of the Greek gods, was 12 m (40 ft) in height and made of ivory and gold. An earthquake probably leveled the temple in the 6th century ad, and the statue was later taken to Constantinople, where a fire destroyed it.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Asia Minor, built after 356 bc, combined great size with elaborate ornamentation. Artemis, known as Diana to the Romans, was goddess of the hunt. An imposing temple in her honor was built in Ephesus in what is now Turkey in the 6th century bc and rebuilt after it burned in 356 bc. Archaeologists estimate that the temple measured 104 m (342 ft) in length and 50 m (164 ft) in width. Its 127 stone columns stood more than 18 m (60 ft) tall. The temple was destroyed by the Goths in ad 262.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was a monumental marble tomb in Asia Minor built for King Mausolus of Caria, who died in 353 bc. Queen Artemisia built the tomb in memory of Mausolus, her brother and husband, at Halicarnassus in what is now southwestern Turkey. It was decorated by the leading sculptor of the age. An earthquake probably toppled the structure, and its materials were later used as building material. Only fragments remain of this tomb from which the word mausoleum derives.
The Colossus of Rhodes, a huge bronze statue of the Greek sun god Helios, was erected about 280 bc to guard the entrance to the harbor at Rhodes , a Greek island off the coast of Asia Minor. The statue stood about 32 m (105 ft) tall and according to legend, it straddled the harbor. An earthquake destroyed it in 224 bc.
The Pharos of Alexandria was an ancient lighthouse located on an island in the harbor of Alexandria, Egypt. The lighthouse, built about 280 bc during the reign of Ptolemy II, stood more than 134 m (440 ft) tall—about as high as a 40-story building. A fire was kept burning at its top to welcome sailors. Storms and an earthquake had damaged the lighthouse by 955 ad; an earthquake completely destroyed it during the 14th century.