In Brief

$260M Plan to Resurrect Ancient Wonder of the World Aims to Save Greek Island’s Economy

The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via Youtube)
The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube)

The Colossus of Rhodes, destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BCE, may soon rise again, redesigned and totally tricked out for the 21st century. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the statue of the Greek god Helios was built in the city of Rhodes (on the island of the same name) by Charles of Lindos in 282 BCE to celebrate the Greek city’s victory over a mass invasion by Cyprus. Its resurrection, however, is being plotted by an international team of architects, engineers, an archaeologist, and an economist who have proposed a new, elaborate design in an effort to create jobs and stimulate the local economy — an argument that evokes another recent project to erect an enormous statue.

The Greek proposal’s ambitions are nothing short of olympic, envisioning the ancient god towering above a harbor at nearly 500 feet tall — about five times the height of the original sculpture — with its feet straddling the breakwater so vessels may glide through the arch formed by Helios’ muscular, shimmering legs. Although ancient accounts differ on the original sculpture’s appearance (and location), and it was popularly illustrated with legs straddling the waterway, the colossus likely adopted a more classical Greek pose and stood on a pedestal. But if one plans to re-create one of the Seven Wonders of the World, one has to impress — and with a cost estimate of €240–260 million (~$264–286 million), this proposal is definitely trying to do so.

The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube, gif by Benjamin Sutton)
The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube, gif by Benjamin Sutton)

“The project doesn’t want to present again a copy of the original structure, 40 meters tall, made of bronze,” the design team writes on its website, “but to make the visitor shiver and feel the same identical emotions that his ancestors felt looking at it for the first time, more than 2,200 years ago. To recreate those feelings, the structure must be unique and original. The project considers a brand new position, not in the middle of the city, but outside its walls, as a new voice, a new point of reference for the ships at night time.”

The team intends to make good on that last promise by making Helios literally beam. The golden god will also serve as a lighthouse, with the lantern room above a rotating restaurant with 360-degree views, all poised above his head and cupped by a hopefully sturdy right hand. But that’s not all: the modern Colossus of Rhodes will also house in the very insides of his god bod an exhibition space with Guggenheim-esque wraparound walkways, a library, and viewing areas — one of which is an outdoor platform created from Helios’ open left palm. It will also be completely sustainable, employing renewable energy sources and covered entirely with solar panels.

Watch the truly epic video of the proposal below, accompanied by music fit for a B-movie gladiator battle:

ARE. YOU. PUMPED. YET?? If you aren’t, well, brace yourself for this second video, which assures that the contemporary, colossal Colossus will remain secure from future earthquakes and strong winds thanks to a core tripod structure composed of concrete and steel:

The team estimates it could build the towering titan in three to four years but has not yet come up with a means to fund its dazzling dream. Options, they state, include sponsorship by “important Greek and foreigner institutions” and a worldwide crowdfunding campaign inspired specifically by funding efforts for Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. (At press time, a Kickstarter has yet to be launched.)

The project is the latest in a series of efforts to reconstruct the Colossus of Rhodes, all of which remain unrealized. In 1999, city officials also proposed an international crowdsourcing effort to rebuild a statue similar to the original one — a plan that evidently failed; more recently, the German artist Gert Hof, in another plan with projected support by the public, reimagined the ancient statue as a light sculpture.

Meanwhile, more than 6,000 miles way in Texas, Houston’s Art Guys have announced their own monumental golden statues to hover over Houston Ship Channel, as Glasstire reported. Titled “The Art Guys Colossi,” the nearly 600-feet tall giant statues of the duo will be plated in pure 22-karat gold, house elevators to shuttle people to observation decks in their heads, and beam out laser lights from their eyes.

“Funding for ‘The Art Guys Colossi’ will come from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston,” the pair wrote in a Facebook post. “In a surprising move, the MFAH Board of Directors decided to redirect the $1/2 billion they planned to spend on their new building for modern and contemporary art. An unnamed official from the MFAH said, ‘We think it’s the right thing to do.'”

MFAH has remained quiet on the matter.

h/t Business Insider

The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube)
The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshots via YouTube, gif by Benjamin Sutton)
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The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube)
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The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube)
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The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube)
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The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube)
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The proposed design for the Colossus of Rhodes (screenshot via YouTube)
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