Had The Colossus of Rome survived the ravages of time, it would probably have been the tallest architectural feat, which is the sixth oldest of the ancient Seven Wonders. Situated on a pedestal, the statue was as tall as a modern 15-story building. This structure was built at the entrance of Mediterranean island of Rhodes around 280 BC. This gigantic statue was erected to commemorate the victory of the Rhodians against the Antagonids.
Rhodes built the statue to honor its patron god Helios and to express their gratitude for the military victory.
There are no valid records of exactly how the Colossus of Rhodes looked, but according to the popular notion it straddled the harbor's entrance and ships sailed between its legs. Considering the height and width of the mouth of the harbor, it would have posed an intricate engineering problems in the third century BC. It would have been economically devastating because it would block Rhodes' thriving commercial harbor at the time of its construction. Moreover, the fallen Colossus would have entirely blocked the harbor entrance.
It took about 12 years in the construction of the statue. The project was commissioned to the Rhodian sculptor Charles of Lindos. His workers began the construction by casting the outer bronze skin parts. The base was made of white marble and the ankle and feet of the statue were fixed first. The bronze form was then fortified with an iron and stone framework. To reach the higher parts, an earth ramp was built around the statue and was later removed. When the colossus was finished, it stood about 33 m (110 ft) high.
According to the historical records, Colossus of Rhodes was seriously damaged during an earthquake at about 226 BC, and collapsed. The statue broke at its knees, its weakest structural zone. Thus, "Colossus knee" is the architectural equivalent to "Achilles heel". The plan to rebuild it had to be dropped because according to an Oracle, a curse would have befallen the city if the statue was reconstructed. The broken pieces were left alone for over 800 years. Travelers admired what remained of the Colossus of Rhodes, as did the Roman historian Pliny who wrote, "Even as it lies, it excites our wonder and admiration."
The Arabs invaded Rhodes in 654 AD. They salvaged the remnants of the Colossus of Rhodes and sold them as scrap metal. It is said that the fragments had to be transported to Syria on the backs of 900 camels. Nothing remains of it now.
The Colossus of Rhodes is the shortest lived of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. It lasted just 53 years. The French sculptor Bartholdi, while constructing his Statue of Liberty, drew part of his inspiration from the Colossus of Rhodes, which was built 2200 years before.
Today, the island of Rhodes is a popular tourist spot. It has two Hillman Wonders Bronze Medal winners - Rhodes Old Town and the Lindos Acropolis.