The Colossus of Rhodes

The city of Rhodes

The city of Rhodes ©roger4336/Flick

The Colossus of Rhodes was a huge statue built in antiquity as the seventh wonder of the world. The statue represented the Greek god of the sun, Helios, considered by the islanders the ancestor of their nation.

The statue measured between 32 and 36 meters and was built of bronze and later strengthened with iron and stone. It is said that have been used 15 tons of bronze and 9 tons of iron, but calculations show that these amounts were even bigger. The theory that this colossus was standing with its foot on each shore of the port is just a legend, no description specifies this.


The magnitude of the Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes was meant to capture the glorious resistance of the Rhodiense against the mercenary army of Demetrios. The construction would be done in 12 years and was completed in 282 BC. According to some, it guarded the entrance to the harbor of the island. According to new researchs, it would be found about the place where is currently the entrance of the Castle of the Templars.

The port of Rhodes

The port of Rhodes ©roger4336/Flick

The construction of the statue

In 305 BC King Demetrios of Phrygia and Lydia invited the residents of Rhodes to participate in a campaign against the metropolis of Alexandria. As trading partners with Egypt, they fermly refused his request. Demetrios built to the highest siege tower in the world, the famous “Helepolis”, the “destroyer of cities”, that was 30 meters high and 1,400 men were needed to move it. The residents of Rhodes, frightened, begged help from the patron of the island, Helios, the sun god. They promissed that if he listens to prayers, they build him a statue, much larger and more beautiful than all the representations of the gods of that era. What saved the city was that its inhabitants dug at night and in a hurry a large ditch in which in the next day entered the front wheels of the tower. The colossus of wood could not be moved and stopped the breach in the wall of the fortress with his own body.

Artist's impression of the Colossus of Rhodes

Artist’s impression of the Colossus of Rhodes ©Jorge Lascar/Flick

The fate of the Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes stood at the harbor entrance for many years, until in 226 BC a strong earthquake hit Rhodes. The city was really damaged and the statue was broken at the weakest point: the knee. The residents immediately received an offer from King Ptolemy II of Egypt to help restore the statue. The oracle consulted banned the reconstruction and the offer of the king was rejected. For a millennium, the statue stood in ruins until in the year 654 the Arabs invaded Rhodes. They dismantled the Colossus of Rhodes and sold the fragments to a Jew from Syria. The fragments were carried by 900 camels.

The city of Rhodes

The city of Rhodes ©roger4336/Flick


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