A Guide to the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World

The seven wonders of the ancient world

ThoughtCo / Hilary Allison 

The seven wonders of the ancient world have been celebrated by scholars, writers, and artists since at least 200 B.C. These marvels of architecture, like Egypt's pyramids, were monuments of human achievement, built by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern empires of their day with little more than crude tools and manual labor. Today, all but one of these ancient wonders have vanished.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Pyramids Of Giza, Egypt

 Nick Brundle Photography / Getty Images

Completed around 2560 B.C., Egypt's Great Pyramid is also the only one of the seven ancient wonders that exist today. When it was finished, the pyramid had a smooth exterior and reached a height of 481 feet. Archaeologists say it took as long as 20 years to build the Great Pyramid, which is thought to have been built to honor the Pharoah Khufu.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Lighthouse in Alexandria (one the seven wonders of the world) engraving by F. Adler dating 1901, colorized document
Apic / Getty Images

Built around 280 B.C., the Lighthouse of Alexandria stood around 400 feet tall, guarding this ancient Egyptian port city. For centuries, it was considered the tallest building in the world. Time and numerous earthquakes took their toll on the structure, which gradually fell into ruin. In 1480, materials from the lighthouse were used to construct the Citadel of Qaitbay, a fortress that still stands on Pharos Island.

The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes, 1760. Artist: Anonymous

Heritage Images / Getty Images

This bronze and iron statue of the sun god Helios was built in the Greek city of Rhodes in 280 B.C. as a war monument. Standing beside the city's harbor, the statue was nearly 100 feet tall, about the same size as the Statue of Liberty. It was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 B.C.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum of Mausolus, King of Caria, at Halicarnassus, drawing, Carian civilization, Turkey, 4th century BC
De Agostini Picture Library / Getty Images

Located in the present-day city of Bodrum in southwestern Turkey, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was built around 350 B.C. It was ​originally called the Tomb of Mausolus and was designed for a Persian ruler and his wife. The structure was destroyed by a series of earthquakes between the 12th and 15th centuries and was the last of the seven wonders of the ancient world to be destroyed.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Reconstructed Ruins of the Ancient Library at Ephesus, Turkey
Michael Baynes/Getty Images

The Temple of Artemis was located near present-day Selcuk in western Turkey in honor of the Greek goddess of hunting. Historians can't pinpoint when the temple was first built on the site but they do know it was destroyed by flooding in the 7th century B.C. A second temple stood from about 550 B.C. to 356 B.C., when it was burned to the ground. Its replacement, built shortly thereafter, was destroyed by 268 A.D. by invading Goths.

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Engraving of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia by Fischer von Erlach

Corbis  / Getty Images

Built sometime around 435 B.C. by the sculptor Phidias, this statue of gold, ivory, and wood stood over 40 feet tall and depicted the Greek god Zeus seated on a cedar throne. The statue was lost or destroyed sometime in the 5th century, and very few historical images of it exist.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Illustration of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Corbis / Getty Images

Not much is known of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, said to have been located in present-day Iraq. They may have been built by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 B.C. or by the Assyrian King Sennacherib around 700 B.C. However, archaeologists have found no substantial evidence to confirm the gardens ever existed.

Wonders of the Modern World

Look online and you'll find a seemingly endless list of contemporary wonders of the world. Some focus on natural wonders, others man-made structures. Perhaps the most noteworthy attempt was compiled in 1994 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Their list of the seven modern wonders of the world celebrates 20th-century engineering marvels. It includes the Channel Tunnel connecting France and the U.K.; the CN Tower in Toronto; the Empire State Building; the Golden Gate Bridge; the Itaipu Dam between Brazil and Paraguay; the Netherlands North Sea Protection Works; and the Panama Canal.


Watch Now: The 7 Wonders of the Modern World

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Rosenberg, Matt. "A Guide to the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/the-seven-wonders-of-the-world-4147695. Rosenberg, Matt. (2020, August 28). A Guide to the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-seven-wonders-of-the-world-4147695 Rosenberg, Matt. "A Guide to the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-seven-wonders-of-the-world-4147695 (accessed March 28, 2023).