The seven wonders of the ancient world have fired up the imagination of mankind for a long time, surrounded by myths and legends, but nevertheless real and impressive. Although many have perished under the impact of natural forces or mankind, their legacy continues to this day and makes for one of the greatest stories of the antiquity. The places that harbored these wonders have since become amazing destinations, even if the remains of their former glory has sometimes passed. Among these, the Colossus of Rhodes must have been magnificent, rising above the ancient city of Rhodes, on the idyllic Greek island with the same name. If today Rhodes is equivalent with pristine beaches and modern tourism, some people that fascinated with ancient history and legends still remember that this was also the location of one of the seven wonders.
The Colossus of Rhodes stood in the beautiful town of Rhodes for a limited period, but nevertheless impressed the ancient world to a degree that stories and myths appeared long after it had disappeared. As for the town itself, today it is a charming travel destination, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site through its medieval architecture. The ancient Greeks, the St. John Knights Order of Jerusalem, the Ottoman, Italian and other influences have created a wonderful city, with an unbelievable picturesque beauty and countless landmarks that are worth visiting and admiring. With the wonderful Upper Town boasting with Gothic architecture, with the lower town filled with mosques and other Ottoman buildings, with the impressive Acropolis and the charming harbor, Rhodes is a place filled with character and atmosphere. Now imagine the massive Colossus watching over the city.
The Colossus was a massive, tall statue of the Greek god Helios (the god of the sun), who used to be the patron god of the city and the island. After a successful victory against attackers in 305 BC. To honor this great feat, it was decided that a grand statue should be built in Rhodes , so one of the greatest sculptors of that time was called, Chares of Lindos, who begun to work of the statue depicting Helios from 292 BC. After about 12 years, the cast bronze statue was finally ready and it must have looked like no other of antiquity. The actual location of the Colossus is till debated, with many placing it in the harbor, others further in the sea, on breakwater walls, while some even believe that it used to rise in the Acropolis of Rhodes. No matter its location, one thing is certain, the statue did not have its feet apart at the entrance of the harbor, with ships passing under it, like many depictions show it. Most architects and historians believe that this would have been impossible.
The Colossus of Rhodes could have shown Helios in its usual stance, feet together and holding a torch and a spear. The bronze used to cast the statue has most likely from the captured weapons and ships. The dimensions were truly unbelievable for those times, with a marble base 15 meters high, while the statue itself stood at 30 meters. For scale, the Statue of Liberty statue is about 46 meters, while its total height reaches about 90 meters. Although the techniques used to build the statue were advanced for those days, the next big earthquake also meant the fall of the Colossus. For only about 50 years, from 280 to 224 BC, this magnificent statue was one of the greatest highlights of the ancient world. Long after its destruction, the remains of the Colossus stood on the island, until the Arabs that conquered Rhodes dismantled them. Visitors from around the world used to come and visit these remains, impressed by their sheer scale.
Despite its short life, the Colossus of Rhodes truly was one of the wonders of the ancient world, a true feat of engineering and architecture, a symbol for the ingenuity and determination of mankind. Although the people of Rhodes could have rebuilt this marvel, prophecies from Delphi and the believe that Helios himself caused the destruction of the statue have made such a feat impossible. Today, upon arriving in the small port of Rhodes, just imagining a huge statue of a god in front of the medieval and modern landmarks of the city is an unforgettable experience. There are still many things to know and uncover about the Colossus, its location, posture, construction and ultimate fate, but what we do know is pretty impressive. So next time you visit the Mediterranean heaven of Rhodes, take a moment to think about the legend of the Colossus.