The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are seven ancient structures that were particularly impressive or had special historical value. They were listed in some of the earliest guidebooks for travellers, a century or two BCE. These guides were written in Greek and covered only the region around the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.
The list varied from book to book, but the best-known version included the following sights:
- The Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt is the oldest of the wonders and only one that survives today.
- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were in what is now Iraq. There is debate, though, about whether these gardens existed and what they looked like if they did exist.
- The Colossus, a great statue that straddled the harbour entrance at Rhodes in the Greek Islands. In modern times, a proposal was made to build a new Colossus of Rhodes. The original Colossus was the inspiration for the fictional Titan of Bravos in the Game of Thrones books and TV series.
- Temple of Artemis in Ephesus in what is now Turkey
- Mausoleum at Halikarnassus in what is now Turkey
- Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia
At the time the Wonders were first listed, the Hellenic (Greek) culture extended far beyond the current boundaries of Greece. Alexander the Great had created a huge empire and, though that empire soon split up, Greek influence continued in many areas for centuries. All these wonders were in the Hellenic regions.
None of these but the Great Pyramid — which ironically was the oldest of the seven wonders at the time the list was made — has survived to the present day.
In subsequent eras, there have been various proposals for lists of "seven wonders" in various regions or worldwide; occasionally, a landmark is proposed as an "eighth wonder" of the world. With no universally-defined criteria for which venues to include, the selection of seven destinations for these lists tends to be arbitrary and variable.