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The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the great marvels of the ancient world and one of the (shortest-lived) Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It continues to inspire art and imagination today (remember The Titan in Game of Thrones in the harbor entrance of Braavos of the Free Cities?).

But as impressive as the Colossus of Rhodes may or may not have been, it is no more today. Even the location of where it stood is not sure. The Colossus of Rhodes was a giant statue of the Greek sun-god Helios. It was built in the city of Rhodes, on the Greek island of Rhodes, in 280 BC. It celebrated the defense of Rhodes against a year-long attack by Demetrius Poliorcetes.


What We Know Of The Colossus Of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes is thought to have taken around 12 years to have built (292 BC to 280 BC). The base of the statue is said to have been marble, and the rough stone of the statue was dressed in bronze plates.

Contemporary descriptions of the Colossus stated that it stood around 70 cubits high (108 feet), making it around the size of the Statue of Liberty today. That height would make it the tallest statue in the ancient world.

  • Height: 70 Cubits (33 Meters or 108 Feet)
  • Built: 280 BC
  • Toppled: 226 BC
  • Fully Destroyed: 653 AD

But as any engineer could attest, a tall statue is not as sturdy as a pyramid. While the Great Pyramid has stood for around 4,500 years, the Colossus only stood for around 54 years. It was toppled by an earthquake in 226 BC which is said to have snapped it at the knees, and the statue fell onto the land (not into the harbor). The Greek ruler of Egypt, Ptolemy III, offered to pay for its reconstruction, but an ill oracle dissuaded the Rhodians from accepting the offer.

Ruined as it was, the Colossus was still so impressive that people traveled from far to see them for over 800 years. Even the famous ancient historical Strabo documented them. What was left of it was completely destroyed, with the stone being sold off by the Arabs in 653.

Related: Visiting Ephesus? From St. John To Mary, This Is What To Expect

Location Of The Colossus & Medieval City Of Rhodes

Rhodes is the largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands and a great place to visit.

The exact location of the Colossus is unknown (although it is generally accepted that it did exist - unlike the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon (in the ancient city of Babylon) that may or may not have existed at all). With the development of urban areas of Rhodes and its harbor, perhaps its foundation will never be discovered.

It is possible that the statue stood by the temple of Helios, or it could have stood at the entrance to the port (as it is typically represented in art and Game of Thrones). It is not likely possible it could have spanned the port as it is often depicted. At 30 meters high, it would have likely been too small and restricted the entrance of the port too much (sorry).

Today the Greek city of Rhodes is the main city on the island of Rhodes, with a population of around 50,000 people (and 90,000 in the greater area). It has plenty of other ancient ruins and attractions to see and explore. In fact, it is considered one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe, with the citadel of Rhodes built by the Knights Hospitaler (Crusaders).

The city of Rhodes has been UNESCO World Heritage designated since 1988 and is today an important tourist destination.

Related: Visit The 7th Wonder Of The Ancient World: Lighthouse Of Alexandria

The Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World

The Seven Wonders were an ancient Greek travel itinerary (the ancient "top 10" must-see attractions if you will). Today only a few can be seen.

  • The Great Pyramid: Egypt - The Oldest Wonder And The Only One Still Standing
  • The Lighthouse of Alexander: Egypt - Stones Can Be Dived An Seen Today
  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: Iraq - Location Is Not Known
  • The Statue Of Zeus: Greece - Lost To History
  • The Temple Of Artemis: Turkey - Base Of A Single Column Can Be Seen Today
  • Colossus Of Rhodes: Greece - Exact Location Unknown
  • Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: Turkey - Base Can Be Seen And Its Stone Reused For A Crusader Castle