The Wonders of this World that never cease to marvel

Earth has so many hidden treasures it is hard not to be in awe of so much beauty. Nature is an art in itself. And though I can’t help but agree that Man has done much harm to Mother Earth, I cannot deny the extraordinarily exceptional aspects of some of the numerous marks that He has left on this earth that in a way has contributed to embellish even more our Earth. Yes, I am referring to the Seven Wonders of the World.

Why only Seven Wonders?

The number seven was chosen because according to the Greeks it represented perfection and fullness, and it also represented the number of the five planets known at that time, plus the sun and moon. The universe as they knew it.

Throughout history, the number seven has always been identified as on of the mystical numbers in addition to 3 and 9. The seven stars of the constellation Pleiades, the original seven planets of the solar system, and a host of ‘sevens’ in the Bible. We have seven virtues and seven deadly sins. Humans have seven major energy centres (chakra).

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The original idea of the Seven Wonders of the World dates from Herodotus (484 BC – 425 BC) and Callimachus of Cyrene (305 BC – 240 BC). .-C.). The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were marvels of architecture, human ingenuity, and engineering on a scale that even today we would would have a hard time replicating with the material and tools available at that time.

Unfortunately, out of the 7 wonders identified at that time, only one remains standing today. Hence a vote was organized in 2007 by the New Seven Wonders Foundation to establish a list of the Seven New Wonders of the Modern World. Don’t hesitate to go to the Facebook page to discover them. But before you go, let’s go back in time and relive the wonders of yesteryear.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Cairo, Egypt

It is the only ancient wonder still in existence. Also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, it is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex. It is believed that the pyramid was built as a tomb for the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu (“Cheops” for the Greek). There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid which include the so-called Queen’s Chamber and King’s Chamber. The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years until Lincoln Cathedral was finished in 1311.

The Colossus of Rhodes

City of Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name
Engraving made by by Martin Heemskerck

The statue dedicated to the god Helios, the Greek sun-God. It was constructed between 292 and 280 BCE.  It was constructed to celebrate its successful defense against Demetrius Poliorcetes, who had besieged it for a year. According to most descriptions, the Colossus was made of iron and bronze and stood approximately 33 metres (108 feet) high— approximately two thirds the height of the modern Statue of Liberty from feet to crown—making it the tallest statue in the ancient world. It was destroyed by an earthquake.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Is currently believed to exist near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq

Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II was said to have constructed the luxurious Hanging Gardens in the sixth century B.C. as a gift to his wife, Amytis, who was homesick for the beautiful vegetation and mountains of her native Media (the northwestern part of modern-day Iran). To make the desert bloom, a marvel of irrigation engineering would have been required. The Hanging Gardens are the only one of the Seven Wonders for which the location has not been definitively established.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

Alexandria, Egypt

Sometimes called the Pharos of Alexandria, its construction was ordered by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (280–247 BC). The lighthouse has been estimated to be at least 100 metres (330 ft) in overall height. It was the first lighthouse in the world. It was built on the island of Pharos, to help guide trade ships into its busy harbor at Alexandria, Egypt. Ptolemy also believed that Pharos needed something to identify it, both symbolically and literally — its coast was difficult to navigate. Damaged by several earthquakes, it eventually became an abandoned ruin and the third longest surviving ancient wonder, surviving in part until 1480, when the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site. Today the city of Alexandria uses the symbol of the lighthouse on the flag of the Alexandria Governorate as well as on their seal. 

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The word mausoleum comes from King Mausolus, the Persian king of Caria, for whom the temple was built. He ruled in the fourth century A.D. in Halicarnassus. He married his sister, Artemisia, who loved him very deeply and becam so heartbroken by his death that she commissioned the construction of a grand mausoleum for his remains in order to honor him. But it belived that its construction began well before his death. A hilltop with a view of the city and the bay was chosen for its location. The queen never saw her husband’s monument completed. She died just two years after Mausolus and was buried with him. In the 1400s, earthquakes shook the foundations of the mausoleum, and it slowly crumbled. Around 1494, the Knights of St. John of Malta used the temple’s ruins to strengthen their castle. During the excavations of the mausoleum in 1522, the Mausolus and Artemisia’s burial chamber were discovered but mysteriously, no bodies. But maybe their bodies were cremated.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Olympia in Ancient Greece

Zeus, king of the Greek gods, was embodied in larger-than-life form in the Temple at Olympia in ancient Greece. Olympia was a sacred site and the location of the Olympic games. Temple visitors shuddered and cowered under the shadow of Zeus’ mighty statue. His eyes appeared to penetrate even the most hardened souls to elicit piety. He held an object in each hand: in the right, a statue of Nike (goddess of victory) and in the left, a scepter adorned with an eagle. The sanctuary at Olympia fell into disuse during the reign of the Roman emperor Theodosius I who banned participation in pagan cults and closed the temples (391 AD). Whether it be lost or destroyed, the circumstances of the statue’s eventual destruction are unknown. 

The Temple of Artemis

 Also called Artemesium, the Temple was originally built in 550 B.C. by King Croesus of Lydia, to honor Artemis, one of three maiden goddesses of Olympus. Artemis is the Eastern interpretation of the Greek goddess Diana, the goddess of the hunt and of fertility. Artemis is thus is typically portrayed as a very athletic figure. Artemis was not only the patron goddess of the temple but also a beacon of comfort for her city. Peoples traveled long distances to see Artemis. The statue was so popular that the local economy was largely supported by the temple’s tourists and the souvenir replicas they bought.  It was completely rebuilt twice, once after a devastating flood and three hundred years later after an act of arson, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been completely ruined and only foundations and fragments of the temple remain at the site.

And so ends our little trip in the past civilizations. As centuries go by and across different continents, it is amazing that we have maintained the need to mark our territory with statues and buildings and constructions. All wondrous… But in the end all that remains is dust and ruins and a broken earth. Maybe the best wonder after all is just simply nature?

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