The Colossus In Rhodes

The Colossus In Rhodes Courtesy Of Ignacioelul1 (Wikimedia Commons)

Today I want to talk to you about The Colossus in Rhodes and a little on the history of what it was all about.

Firstly – Something to Know!

First of all I want to make you aware of something, as when the summer comes and the island is flooded with tourists, questions have been asked about the Colossus which have made me laugh a little (although not in a belittling way).

The Colossus is advertised a lot here on the island of Rhodes. You will see it in books, leaflets and information guides. Hey, you can also buy small statues of the Colossus from various shops and other outlets.

With this in mind, people do drive around looking to actually see the Colossus itself. I mean why not right? People have stopped me in the street asking where it is and the best way to get there.

The simple answer to this is ‘you can’t’.

The Colossus, although a massive part of history and culture here, was actually destroyed by an earthquake. It cracked at the knees and fell in 226 BC.

Of course, I hope this does not put you off visiting Rhodes, but it is something not all people are aware of. So, i’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news for some people!

Painting Of The Colossus In Rhodes

The Colossus Courtesy Of Ignacioelul1 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Colossus

The statue of The Colossus took 12 years to commission and build. It was 32 meters in height and it was said to have been stood at the entrance to the main harbor in Rhodes Town (more coming in a while on the location).

It was commissioned by Chares of Lindos and was completed in 282 BC and depicted the Sun God Helios. At the time of the earthquake that destroyed it, The Colossus was only standing for a short period of 66 years.

The statue was made from Iron and the skin from bronze. To make the framework safe, rocks were included as part of the structure. This added stability to The Colossus.

Why Was It Constructed?

If you remember on the ‘Classical Antiquity Period‘ section of this website, I mentioned Dimitros Poliorkitis (the Besieger). He was the son of Antigonos (The King of Syria) and he was dispatched by his father to seize Rhodes in 305 BC.

After the Rhodians defeated The Besieger, he and his army fled leaving all of their belongings behind. With the money raised from this equipment, the decision was made that with the finances, a statue would be commissioned and erected thanking the god Helios for their successful conquest!

Some weapons that were left behind by The Besieger were also utilized, and became part of the materials used to construct the statue.

Chares of Lindos was given the responsibility for this project and from 304 to 292 BC he fashioned and completed the statue.

Location Of The Colossus - The Colossus In Rhodes

Location Of The Colossus Courtesy Of Russavia (Wikimedia Commons)

The Location Of The Colossus

Now, this is a subject that raises questions and discussions (sometimes heated too) as it has become a matter of opinion over the centuries.

Even though it was one of the Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World, there is no clear evidence as to wear it actually stood or indeed what it truly looked like.

Some people believe it was stood at the main entrance to the harbor (as I said above) and the arriving and departing boats would sail underneath The Colossus between its legs.

Other believe that it stood on normal land located in the vicinity of where the Palace Of The Grand Masters is situated (inside the Rhodes Medieval City).

After The Earthquake

The earthquake took place in 226 BC and it brought the Colossus down in pieces. Unfortunately it lay there for a long time (centuries) and the Rhodian people did not want it rebuilt as they felt its destruction was that of a curse. They also felt they had insulted Helios.

Many years later in 653 AD one scenario mentions that all the remaining pieces were stolen and sold to a Jewish trader by the Arabs of Moab.

And/or

It has also been told that invaders from Syria took the pieces and used the materials to make other commodities.

Check Out This Amazing Colossus Video

Conclusion

I think you can see The Colossus is somewhat of a mystery. Conflicting stories of where it stood and even what it looked like. Even after its destruction there are different stories about what happened to its remaining pieces.

One thing for sure, it still stands tall when it comes to the Greek culture and tradition. Later on it is documented that the Rhodian people were also called Colossians after the destruction of the statue simply because of the legend of The Colossus.

There is also talk these days of a new Colossus being built. It is all hearsay as it stands now, and as of this moment there is no evidence to support it being constructed.

If it goes ahead, it is said that it will cost in excess of 280 Million Dollars and will stand at 5 times the height of the original Colossus.

Check the video above for more!

I will keep you updated if I hear anything 🙂

I would love any thoughts you have on this. Do you think The Colossus should remain a thing of the past? Do you think it should be rebuilt?

Just drop me a comment below and I will get back to you!

Thanks

Chris

Click Your Option Below And Learn More On Greek Cultures And Traditions.

Chris Towers
Hi there, I am Chris and I live on The Island Of Rhodes In Greece. I am more than happy to assist you in anyway possible if you are looking for information or help on this amazing Greek Island.

Feel free to leave me a message if you have any questions or need advice!

Hey, maybe you have visited this beautiful place yourself and you have something you want to share?

I look forward to hearing from all of you.

28 comments on “The Colossus In Rhodes

  1. Matt's Mom

    Wow, great article on the Colossus.

    I was all excited, thinking this was one thing I wanted to see. Then to see it was destroyed in an earthquake!

    What is amazing to me is the history behind it and how they know when it was destroyed and by what. That seems like such a long time ago, and maybe I am naive, but were they really able to record such things back then and be preserved so long?

    Interesting information for sure!

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hey thanks again for your visit.. Always nice to see you!

      Yeah it is tragic that this statue was taken away by the earthquake back in 266 BC.

      It is an important point that you bring up too, and it is also something i am looking into.

      To know it stood, to know who designed it, what it was made from, how long it took to build and even its destruction, why is it myth as to wear it truly stood and what it for sure looked like?

      Although it is centuries ago, I believe certain things are recorded and kept. This can date back to the roman times, antiquities and further. There is always evidence of what was before, just maybe not all the facts!

      This is where opinions arise, and sometimes these opinions can become the said facts over centuries!

      Thanks!

      Chris

  2. Emrah Yalpur

    Very interesting! I love your site, it’s so informative!

    I was actually looking at one of your other pages on transport in Rhodes and came across this page on the Colossus. Forgive my ignorance. What is the Colossus?

    I know now it’s a statue, but before the earthquake what was it?

    I know The Colosseum, is it related to this?

    Thanks!

    Emrah.Y

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Emrah, hey again 🙂

      No sir, the Colosseum is in Rome (Italy) and not Rhodes (Greece).

      As you rightly say, The Colossus was a statue which was erected to thank the God Helios for the successful battle against the Besieger centuries ago, as i say in the post really!

      It stood for 66 years until the earthquake destroyed it. So to answer your question, before the earthquake it was a statue, and now it is not – it was destroyed in 226 BC!

      So no reference to the Colosseum in Rome!

      Thanks

      Chris

  3. Hah, wow!

    I am glad to hear I’m not the only one who thought that the Colossus was still standing! At least I figured it out before visiting there, so I know I’m finding out at a better time than some people 🙂

    I am pretty surprised to hear that not even a single piece has been recovered!! So not really any options to go and see maybe a piece of it at a museum?

    I guess I’m cheering for a rebuild of it! But of course, it’s not my money 🙂

    Hope the Greeks can afford it!

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hi Bret, thanks for your comment, and I hope you are doing fine!

      Yes, a lot of people assume the Colossus is still standing. I must admit I always knew it had been destroyed all those centuries ago, but I guess we are not all the same.

      I think because it is well advertised like I mention in the post, people naturally look for it. In my opinion it is tragic that it fell and to my knowledge, none of the pieces were ever retained or put on display anywhere either. It would be a great center piece now for people to see.

      But I guess this was its destiny.

      As for the rebuild, I don’t know. I would like to see it happen in one way, as for sure it would go down in the islands history once more, and to be here and witness that would be amazing!

      On saying that, the mystery of the original is awesome, so should it be replaced? From this angle I am not so sure!

      When it comes to financing it, we will see. I do not know any details about this at the moment, but for sure the money can be better spent when you look at the current Greek and European Union budgets.

      Only time will tell 🙂

      Thanks

      Chris

  4. Thank you very much for an interesting story about the Colossus.

    I heard about it but I never spent enough time to explore the story in detail. I’ve been to Greece many times, unfortunately never to Rhodes.

    Now I have very clear travel destination for the next time I will be in Greece.

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hey there thanks so much for taking a look at my website and for your interest in the Colossus!

      It is good to know you have frequented Greece on many occasions but saddening to know you have never made it to Rhodes 🙂

      Feel free to let me know if you make some solid plans to see the island here, and if you need anything I will be happy to help you out with some useful information!

      Thanks again!

      Chris

  5. Interesting article.

    Another site that I wish was still around is the Great Library at Alexandria.

    A real shame that the world lost that.

    If it had not been sacked, I’m sure we would still have many contemporary references to the Colossus, and would have a much better idea of what the Colossus was really like (not to mention the huge ancient knowledge base that humanity lost with the loss of the library).

    It would be impressive to see a modern remake of the Colossus.

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hey there thanks so much for your thoughts on this.

      Yes the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt is without doubt a huge loss.

      Equal with mystery too, as it is not 100% sure when the library was destroyed. It is said to have been torched in 48 BC by the army of Alexander the Great, but other sources say it was ruined by the Roman Emperor Aurelian in in approximately 270 AD.

      Even this has its talking point. But you are right, had such a resource such as this library survived, there would be a lot more in the way of accurate knowledge today, including the Colossus!!

      Tragic!

      Thanks for your attention here 🙂

      Chris

  6. Amazing article! I have always heard of the Colossus of Rhodes, but I didn’t really know too much about it.

    As an avid traveller, I probably would have set out to find out where it had stood on my journeys in Greece, but good to know that no one actually knows.

    I think it would be really amazing if they did construct another one. It would great for tourism and to bring back ancient culture.

    Wonderful information here, and I’m now really fascinated to read your other articles and future posts.

    Cheers!

    Nicki

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hey Nicki thanks so much for your comment on this 🙂

      Yes I must admit the Colossus Of Rhodes is one of the more famous icons for the island although it fell all them years ago.

      I like that it is a mystery, and I think this adds to the fascination of it. I am half and half when it comes to the new Colossus project though.

      I certainly know that it would attract millions of tourists, without doubt. But to me things are not only about making money. I also think the original should never be forgotten and i am not keen on something taking away the attention from this.

      But hey, that’s my opinion for what it is worth 🙂

      I am happy you enjoyed the information here. There is lots more coming Nicki so be sure to come back. Drop me a line too if there is anything you want to know that I have not yet mentioned!

      Thanks

      Chris

  7. That was an amazing history lesson on the Colossus of Rhodes.

    I really hope they rebuild it because a lot of famous cities have modern structures that now define them.

    Look at that stupid pickle structure they built in London. It’s ugly but it’s know in all the pictures showing off the city.

    Greece needs something like this but you’re right that is a huge price tag.

    Really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hey Peter thanks for your thoughts on this.

      The pickle example made me laugh 🙂 I think it is called the Gerkhin actually if I am not mistaken, but you are right, it is one of the most iconic building in London and certainly one everybody knows.

      I think it was completed around 2004 to 2005, but when you consider a structure like St Paul’s Cathedral that dates back to the 1600’s – why is this ugly modern thing the light in everyone’s eye? Give me the older classical architecture any day!

      I agree that a rebuild of The Colossus would be a wonderful thing, in some way. I think it would be great to have a Colossus here yes, but I still would not like to see the original overshadowed. Sometimes the original means more than the re-creation, even if it has long been destroyed.

      And your point is well noted, the money could be spent on more urgent matters 🙂

      Thanks Peter. I appreciate your comment!

      Chris

  8. CajunCajole

    The Colossus was something that would have been amazing to see and there are so many depictions of what it looked like. I like to see people’s renditions of it in art. People are very creative and the details they add can be pretty spectacular!

    Are there miniature statues they sell there of what they believe the Colossus to look like?
    That would be fun!

    I love history and I really enjoyed reading this article!

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hey there and thanks for your question.

      Because The Colossus stood so many years ago, there have naturally been many renditions of it come to light when it comes to its portrayal. The most common impression you see of The Colossus to day is the same as the images you see here on this page.

      To answer your question, of course 🙂 There are many outlets that sell small statues and other memorabilia for The Colossus. These can be found in a lot of the tourist shops with many other souvenirs!

      Hope this helps you, and if you need more just let me know 🙂

      Thanks

      Chris

  9. Hi there – I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe and Greece is definitely on my must see list. 

    It always looks so beautiful and the history that is there is amazing. There is so much to see and learn! There are lots of mysteries to the ancient world that once stood where new attractions are today.

    Thank you for offering some insight into this bit of Greece’s history. Is there a certain part of the Island of Rhodes that you would recommend over others? 

    I appreciate any suggestions you may have.

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hi there Jen and thanks for your time and for reading.

      There is a lot to see here in Rhodes, and to be honest – sometimes you need to prioritize. If you manage a visit, seeing some of the sights can take time, and it is important to see the ones which offer the most value.

      If you are here for only a week, sometimes you can leave without seeing some of the places which are classed as ‘must see’ places.

      The Medieval City in Rhodes is a definite must see and is packed with history. It is a crime to visit the island and not see and experience this.

      Also the Ancient City of Kameiros is another essential place to visit. Once of the original cities on the island dating back centuries will offer you an insight of what early life was like here.

      Also the white city of Lindos is very important, and here you will find the Acropolis too. 

      At this moment I am preparing a lot of information on the latter two which will be available soon. The Medieval City information is available already and here for you to read.

      There are other attractions, many in fact, but in my opinion the above list would be my top 3 visits.

      Hope this helps Jen, and if you need more just let me know 🙂

      Thanks

      Chris

  10. Great story! 

    This makes me want to visit the sites and take in the history. 

    Question. When visiting Greece what are the most recommended places to visit? My wife and I would love to visit the beautiful island of Santorini etc however, is it possible to travel to the mainland during the same trip to take in some of this history? 

    In your opinion, what is the perfect greek vacation?

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hello there Jason. 

      Although your questions is not really aimed at the Colossus or at Rhodes, I am going to answer it anyway 🙂

      Santorini is a beautiful island, but in all honesty a lot of the Greek Islands are. Places such as Kos, Crete, Mykonos etc are all well worth seeing.

      When visiting the islands, there is usually a boat service which runs back and forward from mainland Greece. They dock and depart from Piraeus in Athens. So yes, it is easy to move around and see some other places too. This is also the case for Rhodes.

      There is a lot to see in Greece and each place has its own unique feeling and experience. The mainland is worth seeing for sure. Athens is an amazing place and the Acropolis and Parthenon are extremely beautiful. 

      The islands have a lot to offer though, so it would be a shame to miss out on those.

      Many people do come to Greece and they hop around. A couple of days here, a couple of days there, and over a 2 week period they soak in many of the islands and the mainland too. 

      If you are a lover of history, then this would be a great option for you 🙂

      Hope this helps, and let me know if you need something more.

      Thanks

      Chris

  11. coughlanmaureen

    I think your website is extremely interesting as I have never been to Rhodes, but now after viewing your site I would like to visit and have a look around.

    Your article about the Colossus was very informative. I had no idea that it was destroyed In a earthquake!

    Love the images in this post, they give the reader a good idea of what the Colossus looked like before it was destroyed!

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hi there Maureen and thanks for your comment and your interest.

      A lot of people do still visit Rhodes believing that The Colossus is still standing. This is why I mention it outright at the beginning of the text. I was surprised to find so many people here asking were it stands, and then I have had to break the bad news to them.

      The images shown are of course a general opinion of how it once looked. A lot of people over the generations past, have had different opinions and it has become somewhat of a myth as to the true description. I guess that makes it more interesting though 🙂

      Thanks for reading Maureen, great to hear from you.

      Chris

  12. Thank you for the interesting history of TheColossus in Rhodes. I love the images you have of the Colossus and the possible location. It brought me into the story with you.

    My husband and I visited Italy in the late 90’s. On the train to Florence, we sat next to an older Italian woman who has cousins in Greece (I think). 

    She couldn’t speak English well and I can’t speak Italian, so I had to guess at  some of the things she told me. One of the things she mentioned was Greece and she highly recommended that we visit.

    Unfortunately, we did not have a chance. Now, I came across your article though and it is a wonderful reminder for me to renew my passport and plan a trip there. This article inspires me to want to learn more about the history of Greece.

    On another note, we named our son Zephyr and daughter Thaleia. Both names derived from Greek Gods. I think somehow something is calling for us to come to Greece.

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hey there and thank you so much for sharing your story.

      All them years ago, that little older lady in Italy was correct, you should visit Greece. I am happy this information served as a nice reminder for you.

      Although The Colossus of Rhodes no longer stands, there is a lot of history here for you to appreciate. You and your family would really love it.

      As for naming your children with Greek names, I think that is a really great touch. Maybe you know already, but the name Zephyr derives from the Greek name Zephyros and he was the God of the West Wind. For Thaleia, this names derives from Thallo, which is the Greek word meaning ‘To Blossom”..

      If you already new, I guess this serves as information for someone else 🙂

      Thanks again..

      Chris

  13. Alejandra

    Hi Chris, thanks for sharing this great article about The Colossus In Rhodes.

    It’s always good to be able to read about history and amazing things that happened many years ago. As you say who can say if the colossus was there or not, where exactly was it build.

    After reading your article I know more about it, I will put a trip to Rhodes on my wish list, I’m sure it would be something amazing!

    I will come back to read more about Rhodes while I work on my savings to do this trip.

    Alejandra.

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Thanks Alejandra, I really appreciate your visit.

      In my opinion, there is a lot in the way of stories when it comes to The Colossus!

      Many will argue when it comes to what its appearance was, others will argue its location. I think that is what makes this piece of history so interesting and a focal point of attention! Sometimes things can become myth over time, which only serves peoples curiosity.

      I know there are plans which will be put into place which will involve A New Colossus to be constructed. I am keeping my eyes and ears open, but as yet I am yet to hear anything concrete. Who knows, another myth? 🙂

      Ill keep you posted Alejandra!

      Thanks once again, it is nice to see you back here.

      Chris

  14. Dallas McCalister

    Hi Chris – I am astounded by all this… never knew about this, the video on the Statue is amazing.

    I will be showing this to my adult Sunday school class. We are currently studying the work of Paul and Rome.

    Your site is refreshing and well done, thank you for creating this – very exciting!

    How long have you lived there?

    Dallas

    • Chris Towers Post author

      Hello Dallas and thank you for your interest.

      If you need any further information just let me know. I will be happy to help you out.

      As for me, I have lived on the island of Rhodes now for many years.

      If you check out the About Me section, you will see all my story there 🙂

      Thanks my friend.

      Chris

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