The ancient wonders

There are many wonderful constructions and buildings throughout the entire world and some of these have been given deserved recognition thanks to the wonders of the world list. Most of us have heard of the seven ancient wonders of the world but we are not sure what they are and why they are considered to be wonderful! Essentially, the items that can be considered to be ancient wonders have impressed and astounded humankind through the centuries, with the first wonders being noted as far back as the 4th century B.C. The list was compiled by great men from the Greek and Roman civilizations, mainly with information drawn from guidebooks that had been produced by Hellenic visitors.

The first of the 7 ancient wonders of the world is the Great Pyramid. This impressive structure is the oldest of all of the wonders on the list. The Great Pyramid can be found in Giza, across the River Nile from the bustling modern-day city of Cairo. It is believed that the pyramid was built as a tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu, one of the great Kings of the Fourth Dynasty in Egypt.

With documentation from Greek historians, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon made it on to the wonders of the ancient world list. It is believed that these beautiful lush gardens were located in the present-day Babil region of Iraq. The gardens were constructed by King Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 B.C. The story goes that he built the gardens for his Persian wife who was homesick. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is believed to have been constructed over levels reaching higher than 75 feet and was complete with its own running water system.

The Statue of Zeus is the next wonder that appears on the list of wonders of the ancient world. The statue was carved by the Greek sculptor Phidias in approximately 432 B.C. The statue was made of ivory and was highly decorative, covered with gold-plated bronze. The throne on which the Zeus sat was made of cedar wood and was encrusted with gem stones. Phidias constructed the statue on site, with a temple (the Temple of Zeus) being built around it. The structure was over 39 feet tall and attracted visitors from all over the world. The statue was destroyed by fire in the 5th or 6th century A.D.

The Temple of Art Emus was constructed around 550 B.C in the ancient region of Ephesus, which is now modern-day Turkey. The temple was built by the Greeks as a tribute to the deity Artemis. It was constructed purely of marble, except for the roof and it took over 100 years to complete. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt several times, finally succumbing to complete destruction in A.D 391.

The ancient Persian Empire also contributed to the 7 wonders of the ancient world by giving humankind the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The tomb was commissioned by Artemisia II of Caria for her dead husband, Mausolus. The building was approximately 135 feet tall and was ornately decorated with reliefs on all four sides. The mausoleum was damaged by a serious earthquake and was later completely ruined by European invaders in 1494 A.D.

It is likely that you have heard a bit about the structure the Colossus of Rhodes as it has featured in many books, films and games. The Colossus of Rhodes was a giant statue of the Greek God Helios, which supposedly straddled the harbor gates of the city, although this is a point of dispute. The statue was made of various materials, stood over 100 feet high and was built between 292 and 280 B.C. This ancient wonder of the world fell victim to Mother Nature, having been destroyed by an earthquake in 226 B.C.

In league with the Great Pyramid, the Lighthouse of Alexandria is thought to have been one of the tallest structures on Earth for many, many centuries. Built on the island of Pharos off of the coats of Alexandria on ancient Egypt, the structure was first used as a landmark and then an important lighthouse. It was built during the 3rd century B.C and is believed to have been as much as 440 feet in height. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century A.D.

As you can see, all of these monuments and buildings are spectacular in height, dimension and sheer presence. This is probably why they were recognized around the world as such marvelous feats of human engineering and were deemed to be known as the seven wonders of the world for centuries to come.

Modern Wonders

Throughout the years there have been many lists compiled of the wonders of the world, including those structures considered to be feats of engineering in modern times. As the centuries have worn on, we have become more adept at building great structures that are internationally recognized as having been borne out of ingenious planning and implementation. The 7 modern wonders of the world are laid out on a list that has been compiled by the American Society of Civil Engineers and features some impressive structures from all over the modern world.

The Channel Tunnel is the first of the seven modern wonders of the world on the list. Fondly nicknamed "The Chunnel", it is a under sea link between the port of Folkstone in the United Kingdom with the commune of Coquelles in France. The tunnel runs beneath the bodies of water known as the Strait of Dover and the English Channel. The construction of the 31 mile tunnel began in 1987 and was completed in 1994. This feat of sub-sea engineering fulfilled many an engineer's dream with its complete success. The three large concrete tubes are 5 feet thick and high-speed trains reaching up to 14 feet in width can carry passengers and vehicles easily from Europe to the United Kingdom.

In Toronto in the country of Canada stands the CN Tower. This structure is one of the earlier recognized wonders of the modern world, having been completed in 1975. The CN Tower is primarily a communications and observation tower which stands an amazing 1,815 feet tall. The construction of the tower was very quick with an average of 18 feet being built per day. The tower held the title of the world's tallest free-standing structure until the completion of the Burj Khalifa in 2007, although it is still the tallest structure of this nature in the Western Hemisphere. The CN Tower is also home to the world's highest bar.

Most people have at least heard of, if not visited the impressive Empire State Building in New York, which made it onto the seven modern wonders of the world list. It is truly a benchmark upon which most modern structures and skyscrapers are based. The Empire State Building was completed in a mere 23 weeks and without any employees working overtime. This meant that the building took over the New York skyline and was fully completed by May 1931. The structure is so impressive that it was easily repaired after being damaged when a plane flew into it during fog in 1945.

The Golden Gate strait that connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean is home to the next of the 7 wonders of the world. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the most recognizable suspension bridges all over the world. Not only is it a beautiful golden color (which is actually not red, it is known as "International Orange"), the bridge was the longest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1937. The two large towers reach a height of 746 feet and the wires used in the huge cables on the bridge could wind round the Earth three times. The Golden Gate Bridge has survived many attempts by Mother Nature to defeat it and remains one of the sturdiest structures in the world.

At the Parana River near the Brazil/Uruguay border is the impressive Itaipu Dam. This structure is over five miles wide and was completed in 1984. There is enough concrete in the dam to build at least five Hoover Dams and enough steel and iron to erect three Eiffel Towers. The construction workers also had the task of moving the course of the river by making a 1.3 mile bypass. The Itaipu Dam is a hydroelectric dam which is second only to the Three Gorges Dam in China for its generating capacity.

In the south-western part of the Netherlands are a series of structures known as the Delta Works, which are sixth on the list of the 7 modern wonders of the world. The Delta Works are a collection of floodgates, sluices, dams and storm surge barriers that were erected between 1950 and 1997. The objective of the Delta Works is to "push back the sea", something that the Dutch have been trying to do for centuries. The idea is to protect the area around the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta from the encroaching sea. The structure known as the Oosterscheldekering is the largest of the thirteen dams.

The last of the 7 modern wonders of the world is the Panama Canal which is one of civil engineering's greatest inventions. The canal is a ship canal that joins the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans which eliminated the need to travel the long and dangerous route round the tip of South America. The construction of the Panama Canal was a grueling affair with over 42,000 workers dredging, blasting and excavating the route from Balboa to Colon. This engineering feat was started in 1880 and was completed in early 1914, demonstrating just how arduous a task it was.

It is easy to see why these structures and feats of engineering have made it onto a present list of wonders. Not only do these structures demonstrate the passion and skill of engineers, it also shows that the dreams of civilizations gone by can become a reality.

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