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Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Colossus of Rhodes, Greece

03 February 2021 08:56

All Rhodes lead to Ancient Greece

All Rhodes lead to Ancient Greece

Join us on a journey to Ancient Greece to discover more about history's most revered statue.

The Colossus of Rhodes at a glance

  • The youngest of the ancient wonders of the world was built around 282 BC.
  • It required an international effort to source 13 tonnes of bronze.
  • It later inspired the design of the Statue of Liberty.

The story behind the Colossus of Rhodes

The 32 metre (105 ft)-high depiction of the Greek sun-god Helios was erected as part of a celebration marking the successful defence of Rhodes against its Macedonian neighbours. Weapons and military supplies dumped by fleeing soldiers were later sold and funded the 12-year super-build. The tallest statue of the ancient world gained admirers from far and wide before it was toppled by an earthquake around 225 BC.

What happened next?

When the earthquake shook the island, the bronze figure broke at the knees. Although funds were offered for its repair, the Rhodians refused the help as an oracle advised against it. Visitors marvelled at the ruins of the mammoth tribute for centuries. It was said that few men could clasp Helios's thumb in their arms and it seemed as though many people tried. When Umayyad Muslims conquered Rhodes in AD 654, the invaders sent the valuable remains to Syria with the help of over 900 camels.

Controversy and the Colossus of Rhodes today

Historians struggle to agree on the position of Rhodes' most famous statue. One theory suggests Helios stood with his legs apart for ships to pass underneath at Mandraki Harbour, while others argue that the Colossus was built inland at the Acropolis of Rhodes where it overlooked the port.

In 2015 a team of architects kickstarted a project to rebuild the ancient wonder, but five times higher than the original. The €250m plans included solar panels for Helios's skin, computer technology to ensure the statue never fell again and even an accompanying museum. With a lack of cash and no discarded weapons available to fund the project, the modern attraction was later scrapped.

What else is there to see and do in Rhodes?

Although tourists are unable to enjoy the Colossus of Rhodes today, over two million holidaymakers a year make the trip to the Greek island to soak up its history. With the largest 'old city' in Europe and the traditional whitewashed village of Lindos, there are plenty of opportunities to experience life from a bygone era. The island boasts areas of natural beauty too. Butterfly Valley is a colourful highlight you won't want to miss.

Don't let travel insurance worries topple your holiday plans

At World First we provide worldwide travel insurance, so you can ramble around Rhodes with peace of mind.