How recreating one of the seven wonders of the ancient world could help inspire a community, and revitalize the Greek economy.
image via colossusrhodes.com
Towering nearly one hundred feet in the air, a Colossus looked out over the ancient Greek city of Rhodes. An iron and bronze tribute to the sun god Helios, the Colossus was built following Rhodes’ successful defense against a Macedonian siege in the year 305 B.C.E., and stood for over half a century, until destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 226 B.C.E. So magnificent and astonishing was the Colossus that it earned a spot on alongside the Pyramids of Giza and the Lighthouse of Alexandria on Antipater of Sidon's now-famous list of seven wonders of the ancient world. While historians may debate the statue’s posture, and exact location, it’s legacy is such that the isle of Rhodes will forever be synonymous with this giant sculpture.
With that legacy in mind, a team of Greek architects, engineers, and archeologists have come up with an ambitious plan to to recreate the iconic Colossus of Rhodes as a brand new construction project, using twenty first century standards, techniques, and technologies. Rather than standing one hundred feet tall, their proposed Colossus would tower nearly five times as high—almost five hundred feet—and contain a cultural center, library, exhibition hall, and lighthouse to look out over the Rhodes harbor.
The team behind the ambitious plans was inspired by both financial, and humanitarian concerns, explains the project’s website.
The idea of building a contemporary Colossus of Rhodes begun to arise in the ideas of some young professionals, after the break out of the economic crisis in Greece. As unemployment rose and destroyed dreams and ambitions of a whole generation, they tried to work together for a common purpose. Their main task was to make Rhodes a new point of reference for the whole world, to follow a new path and find a solution to the issues that caused such a big sorrow to thousands of people, forced to flee abroad.
They estimate that their Colossus would cost around €240-260 million (about $250-280 million, USD) and take three to four years to complete. Funds would come from both institutional investment, as well as global crowdfunding. The goal, they explain, is “to create several new job positions and to create a ‘domino effect’ for the local economy” bringing in an estimated two billion Euros in tourist money.
As their concept video shows, the team intends to create a basic skeletal tripod—which would house the visitor’s center, exhibition hall, etc—before sheathing the superstructure in the Colossus’ anthropomorphic design.
This updated Colossus is designed to be both earthquake and wind resistant, in order to prevent the same catastrophic collapse that befell its predecessor.
As Hyperallergic points out, this is far from the first time the ancient wonder has been considered for recreation. In 1999 plans were drawn up to construct a new Colossus as a sign of international cooperation ahead of the new millennium. Almost a decade later, in 2008, German architect Gert Hof, proposed a similar update.
While these latest colossal plans have seemingly yet to move beyond the conceptual stage, they have already helped reaffirm the Colossus’ unique place in both Greek history, and the world’s imagination.