One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes was a massive statue of a male figure built around 280 B.C. and erected on the Greek island of Rhodes. Much about the monument remains shrouded in mystery, as it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 B.C. However, ancient accounts hold that the Colossus of Rhodes was created in honor of the sun god Helios and to commemorate the Rhodians’ successful defense of their island against a siege led by Macedonian leader Demetrius Poliorcetes in 305 B.C. Legend has it the people of Rhodes sold the equipment left behind by the Macedonians in order to bankroll the statue’s creation.
Designed by Greek sculptor Chares of Lindos, the Colossus of Rhodes reportedly stood about 110 feet tall atop a 50-foot platform. By comparison, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only ancient world wonder that still survives, initially rose about 481 feet when it was completed, likely sometime between 2560 B.C. and 2540 B.C. Another ancient world wonder, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, produced in the mid-fifth century B.C., was about 40 feet tall.
Today, the world’s tallest statues include China’s Spring Temple Buddha, which stands 354 feet atop a 66-foot-high lotus throne (that itself sits on an 82-foot-tall building), and Burma’s Laykyun Setkyar Buddha, which is 381 feet high with a 44-foot-tall base; both structures were completed in the early 21st century.
In 2008, government officials in Rhodes announced plans were in “the drawing board stage” for a new Colossus; rather than being a replica, it’s intended to take shape as the planet’s largest light sculpture.