Tour the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World
With only one still in existence, and the Seven Natural Wonders of the World currently the most popular list for travelers, it’s no wonder so few know of these ancient architectural accomplishments.
These man-made structures were all built during the classical era, with the ancient Greeks and Romans believed to have started the original list from the various imposing structures. Only the Great Pyramids in Giza still stand today, with the other six sites destroyed by either fires, earthquakes or looting. As such, archeologists and historians have had to rely mainly on literary representations to get an understanding of their history and design.
So if you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Eastern Mediterranean, why not arrange a private jet charter for a tour around the sites of these world wonders overflowing with ancient history?
The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
Contributed by Johnny Ward of One Step 4Ward
“The six Pyramids of Giza are located in Cairo in Egypt and the largest of these was built for the king Khufu (the Great Pyramid). The pyramids were constructed roughly 4,500 years ago and the king Khufu began the construction of the Great Pyramid around 2550 B.C. and the subsequent pharaohs built the others and the Sphinx. The sheer size and lack of technology in ancient times has shrouded the pyramids in a cloud of mystery. The Great Pyramid of Giza was the largest man made structure in the entire world until the 14th century and it consists of over 2 million individual stones in its outer structure.
“From the capital city of Cairo, the pyramids are only about 15 km away. There are a number of options to take and it is possible to take a private taxi, public bus or one of many shuttle buses to reach the pyramids. A ticket is required to visit the pyramids and you can buy these at the entry/security kiosk to the site. If you have pre-booked an organised tour, the ticket will usually be included in the cost of the tour.
“Egypt has only two seasons: a very hot summer between May and October and a mild winter from November to April. In the summer, the weather can be very hot, and the weather during the winter is much more pleasant. Therefore, it is a good idea to visit directly after summer finishes, or at any time during the mild winter period.”
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
It is believed that sixth century Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar built tiered gardens of hanging trees and plants around his palace for his wife, who missed the luscious vegetation in her homeland of Media (northwestern Iran). It is said to have been destroyed by earthquakes, however, archeologists and historians doubt its existence as there is no physical or literary evidence proving it was ever a reality. The first evidence of the gardens was documented by Greek scholars who mention its location as the centre of ancient Babylon, near what is now known as Hillah in Iraq.
Its wonder factor is said to come from the intricate irrigation system put in place to bring water from the river Euphrates to the gardens in an area that was, and still is, completely arid. What is left of it today is parts of Nebuchadnezzar's palace and some of the old city walls.
The best way to get to the ruins of ancient Babylon is to take a flight to Al Muthana Airport. From there you can a taxi into central Iraq. The area is open to tourists but it is advised to check your government’s official travel advice policy before undertaking any trips to Babylon. No tickets are needed to view the site.
The best time of year to go to Iraq is between November and April, when temperatures are milder compared to the summer months. Temperatures range between 60°F - 70°F.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Contributed by Christa Thompson of The Fairytale Traveler
“The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was built around 435 B.C. and was crafted by an Athenian sculptor by the name of Phidias. It was created in the honor of the most powerful and mightiest Greek God and the father of the Olympic Game, Zeus. Sadly, the statue is no longer there, and the circumstances of its loss and destruction are not truly known, but there are myths around what may have happened. Some say it was damaged by fire, others say it was ordered to be taken down. Either way, all that remains of the site now are rocks and debris.
“Since there are no airports in Olympia, you must drive from the nearest airports which are located in Patra (Araxos) and Athens. The Patra airport operates only in summer and is a small charter airport and budget flight airport. Athens is bigger and handles domestic and international flights all year round. From both cities, visitors can take the bus to Olympia or rent a car and drive there. The temple is at the corner of Amalias and Vassilisis Olgas.
“Tickets can be bought on site, at a cost of 12 euros and the site is open daily from 8am-5pm. The busy season in Greece starts April (spring season) and ends in late October (autumn season). I always tell people to hit a destination in the beginning or end of its busy season to get the best weather without the crowds.”
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Contributed by Jessica Festa of Epicure and Culture
“When visiting the ancient site of Ephesus in Turkey there are a few buildings of particular importance to see. One of these is the once-gorgeous marble Temple of Artemis, dating back to the mid 6th century B.C. It was dedicated to the Artemis, the goddess of wilderness and fertility, though today all that remains are its columns and base. Still, with this framework it's easy to picture just how magnificent and important this building was.
“When I visited I took a tour from Kusadasi and found that it was the main hub for visiting the ancient site, and there are no shortage of tour operators there. Many cruise ships also dock here and provide passengers tours to Ephesus. I booked mine through Viator, and actually wrote an article on my exp for their site.
“To enter Ephesus is 40 Turkish lira ($14), though entrance to the Temple of Artemis specifically is free. There are many local tour companies running excursions and I recommend using one of them, as you won't need to worry about transportation, can get other local experiences included and gain a better understanding of what exactly you're looking at.
“The best time to visit Ephesus is spring (April and May) and fall (October and November), as this is when the mildest weather conditions are. If you visit in summer – like I did – make sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and lots of water so you don’t get dehydrated.”
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
This tomb was built by Greek architects around 353 B.C. for the remains of the Persian King Mausollos and his wife, Artemisia. The tomb was placed on a hill that overlooks the ancient city of Halicarnassus near modern-day Bodrum in Turkey, and stood 135 feet tall. The tomb included elaborate statues and columns, decorated with marble and gold. It is known to have been destroyed by earthquakes between the twelfth and fifteenth century and only its foundation remains today. Since its structure is so ornate, the term ‘mausoleum’ was coined to refer to any impressive above-ground tomb.
The best way to get to Bodrum is to fly to Istanbul, from there you can either take another flight or a bus to Bodrum. The site is usually open Tuesday to Sunday between 10:00 and 17:00, and a ticket of 8 YTL is required to enter the site.
The best time of year to visit the site is between November and April when the temperature is moderate, between 61°F and 77°F. Summers are very hot, and temperatures can reach a high of 95°F.
Colossus of Rhodes
Contributed by David Hoffmann of David’s Been Here
“The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun, Helios. It was erected in the city of Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name, by Charles of Lindos in 280 B.C. It was constructed to celebrate Rhodes' victory over the ruler of Cyprus, Antigonus I Monophthalmus, whose son unsuccessfully besieged Rhodes in 305 B.C. Before its destruction in the earthquake of 226 B.C., the Colossus of Rhodes stood over 30 metres (98 feet) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world.
“The best way to get to Rhodes Town is by flying from Athens to Rhodes Island with Aegean Airways. You do not need tickets to see the site.
“The best time of year to go to the Colossus of Rhodes is April-October. The best weather will be in April, May, September and October. June, July and August will be extremely hot.”
Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse of Alexandria, also known as the Pharos of Alexandria was built at the mouth of the Alexandria harbor to guide sailors home around 250 B.C. It measured between 383 and 450 feet high and was built with a light-colored stone. A mirror at the top reflected the sunlight during the day and a fire burned to give off light at night. It was destroyed by three earthquakes between 956 and 1323, and remained a ruin until 1480 when stones on the site were reused to build Fort Qaitbey on the same site.
The best way to get to Alexandria is to fly to the main airport, Borg el Arab Airport, where you can then take a taxi, train or bus to the harbor. Car hire is also available from $40/day. As the fort is now a maritime museum, entrance costs E£25 for adults and E£15 for students.
The best time to visit Alexandria is between the Spring months of March to June and the Autumn months of September to November. It’s best to avoid it in summer, when locals come to the town in droves to escape the heat of Cairo.
With a wealth of historical knowledge attached to these sites, one can learn a great deal about the ancient civilizations which once inhabited these areas. Book or hire a private jet and step back in time with a tour of the Seven Ancient World Wonders, steeped in mystery and grandeur.