People have built many amazing things, from skyscrapers to mansions to statues. But some of the most incredible things ever built were made back in ancient times, many hundreds of years ago. Sadly, most of these impressive creations don’t exist anymore. However, writers back then left behind records that tell us about how they looked when they existed and how they were built, and archaeologists have been able to dig up the remains of some of these sites. These amazing creations are called the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Great Pyramid of Giza
At Giza, Egypt, north of Cairo, stand three giant pyramids known as the Great Pyramids. These towering stone creations were built between 2700 and 2500 B.C. to be tombs for pharaohs, great Egyptian leaders. The largest of these is the pyramid built for Khufu, known by itself as the Great Pyramid, which was the tallest building in the world for 4,000 years. These three buildings are still standing today, and thousands of people visit them every year.
- What the Great Pyramid Looked Like More than 4,000 Years Ago: The Great Pyramids were originally built with a bright limestone coating, which has worn away over time.
- Old Kingdom: The Great Pyramids of Giza: Learn more about the three giant pyramids at Giza here.
- Building the Great Pyramid: For many years, people have been trying to figure out exactly how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids.
- Pyramids of Giza: This page looks at details of the three pyramids at Giza along with the Sphinx.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were said to have been built in what is now Iraq around 600 B.C. The gardens were built so that they were above the ground, so you could walk underneath them. The gardens are said to have been destroyed by earthquakes. Many ancient Greek and Roman writers mentioned this amazing site, but there aren’t any records of Babylonians writing about it, which makes some people think that this ancient wonder might not have existed at all. Some modern researchers have found signs that the hanging gardens may have existed after all, but instead of Babylon, they were in Nineveh, in nearby Assyria.
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon: Find out about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the debate over whether they really existed here.
- New Theory Argues There Was a Hanging Garden, But Not in Babylon: A professor and researcher on Assyria has a theory that the gardens were actually located there, not in Babylon.
- The Hanging Gardens of Nineveh? A translation error could have led people to think that this site is in the wrong place.
- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: This page has more information about the gardens.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Greek sculptor Phidias created a statue of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, to be placed in a temple dedicated to Zeus in the middle of the fifth century B.C. The statue was 40 feet tall, so tall that its head almost touched the roof of the temple! The statue showed Zeus sitting on a throne, and it was decorated with ivory and gold. The statue stood in the temple for more than 800 years, until Christians convinced the Roman emperor to close the temple. The statue of Zeus was moved to a temple in Turkey, where it was destroyed in a fire in the year 462.
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia: Learn the facts about the famous statue of Zeus at Olympia here.
- The Statue of Zeus: This page offers more information about this enormous statue.
- The Zeus Shrine at Olympia: The statue was kept within a shrine to this king of all Greek gods.
- Statue of Zeus: Ivory and gold were used to make the statue of Zeus.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The city of Ephesus, which is in present-day Turkey, was the home of a series of temples built on the same site in honor of Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting. The most impressive temple was the last version built, which was said to be four times larger than the Parthenon in Athens. The roof was held up by 127 columns, and the construction of this building was paid for by King Croesus of Lydia, who was famously rich. The temple was destroyed by invaders in the year 262.
- The Temple of Artemis (VIDEO): Watch this video clip to learn more about the Temple of Artemis.
- Exploring Ancient Ephesus: The city of Ephesus has a rich history.
- Ephesus: Enough artifacts have survived from the early life of this Turkish site to tell us a lot about how people lived there in ancient times.
- The Temple of Artemis: Pieces of this ancient wonder have been dug up by researchers.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
In 353 B.C., Mausolus, the king of Carnia, which was in what is now southeastern Turkey, died. His wife, Artemisia, was so sad that she ordered the construction of a giant tomb as a tribute to him. The building is said to have been around 135 feet high and was made of white marble. The building was destroyed in an earthquake in the 13th century. However, one thing remains: the name of King Mausolus and the legend of the building made for his tomb gave us the word “mausoleum,” which is a building used as a tomb.
- The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, like the Great Pyramids, was built to be a tomb for a great leader.
- British Museum: The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus: The British Museum has some artifacts from the tomb on display.
- The Tomb of Mausolus: The wife of Mausolus wanted his tomb to be the most impressive one ever built.
- The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: See a painting of this ancient site here.
Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus was an enormous statue of the Greek sun god Helios that was built on the island of Rhodes. The statue was made of bronze and was said to be around 110 feet high. Its construction was finished in 282 B.C. The Colossus stood for 60 years until it was toppled in an earthquake. The story of this impressive statue is said to have inspired the creator of the Statue of Liberty.
- The Colossus of Rhodes: This page includes a slide show about the Colossus.
- Colossus of Rhodes: The statue stood beside the harbor at Rhodes.
- Destination: The Colossus of Rhodes: The Colossus was almost as tall as today’s Statue of Liberty.
- The Colossus of Rhodes: The statue was built to celebrate the end of an attack on the city.
Lighthouse of Alexandria
On the Egyptian coast at Alexandria, the world’s first known lighthouse was built. Its construction was ordered by Ptolemy II, and it was completed around 270 B.C. The lighthouse is believed to have been around 380 feet tall, making it the second-tallest structure that had been built in the world at the time; only the Great Pyramid at Giza was taller. The lighthouse stood until around 1300, when it was felled by a series of earthquakes. The ruins of the lighthouse were found in the 1990s by divers in the Alexandria harbor.
- Lighthouse at Alexandria (VIDEO): Watch this video to learn all about the world’s first lighthouse.
- Treasures of the Sunken City: Divers have learned a lot about this site by finding pieces of the lighthouse in the Alexandria harbor.
- Pharos: The Lighthouse at Alexandria: The lighthouse helped people sail safely along the coast at Alexandria.
- The Lighthouse at Alexandria: Learn more about the lighthouse here.