Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Sunday 4 August 2013

The most recent ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ was hotly contested in 2007. UNESCO distanced itself from the public poll which drew 100 million votes and was strongly believed to have been manipulated by the governments and big businesses of countries wanting to benefit from the tourism a top 7 position could bring.

In Ancient Greek times the known world was much smaller so the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are all found in the Eastern Mediterranean. Those compiling the lists were mainly Greek hence the bias towards Greek accomplishments. Of their time though they were remarkable constructions - the biggest and brashest around. Of the seven only one remains relatively intact today – the Great Pyramid at Giza. Foundations of others exist but there is no trace of the Lighthouse of Alexandria or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. All seven only actually existed at the same time for a short period of about 60 years as they were built and destroyed, mainly by earthquakes or fires, over many centuries.

So following in the Hellenistic tourists footsteps, of the 1st and 2nd BC, we find ourselves here at Olympia, where the Statue of Zeus stood at a whopping 12.4m high …….

Model in the museum showing the size comparison
We can tick a few others off the list too. We used to sail in and out of Rhodes harbour where the huge Colossus bronze statue allegedly straddled the entrance. On past visits to Turkey we have been to Ephesus a number of times where the Temple of Artemis once stood (on this trip we just drove by though avoiding the heat and the crowds). And back in the 1908’s we lived in Turgurtreis Cadessi in Bodrum - just a few doors down from the ruins of  the Mausoleum. For a site of such importance it received very little promotion and it was some time before we actually realised we were living next to one of the Seven Wonders of the World! So that’s four covered…
Dave went out to buy a box of matches - he nearly came back with 7!
As for the other 3….we've seen some modern day lookie like-ies on our current trip!

Our first night in Greece was spent in Alexandroupoli where a huge lighthouse stands in the centre of the town serving a dual function to alert vessels out at sea and also to guide the parading locals up the high street!

In Methoni we came across this odd building with a pyramid shaped roof within the castle walls……

And as for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon I can only imagine what might have been there.....

Various lists existed even back then but the best known was written around 140 BC by Antipater of Sidon who wrote  

I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the great man-made mountains of the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.

Maybe at the end of our trip we should draw up our own ‘Wonders List’. I'm not sure where to start really but my descriptions won't be as poetic as Antipater's that's for sure!



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