The 500-year-old statue of the Greek sun god Helios, felled by an earthquake in 226 BCE, is reportedly being rebuilt bigger, badder, and more earthquake-proof than ever. And it’s expected to increase tourism to Rhodes by huge numbers—maybe even helping to revive the troubled Greek economy in the process. While the project is still in the conception phase, go ahead and add “to see the Colossus of Rhodes” to your list of reasons to visit Greece.
The History of the Colossus
Less than 200 years after the Greek city of Rhodes was built, residents erected the statue in order to celebrate Rhodes’ military victory over Syrian prince Demetrius the Besieger, who attacked Rhodes for over a year before finally giving up.
To this day, historians debate the Colossus’ exact location, but legend has it that the statue straddled the island city’s harbor, so that ships entering the city passed between the sun god’s legs. What historians agree on is that the statue took approximately 12 years to complete.
Even after it fell, the statue’s remains—consisting of huge, hollow pieces which laid on the ground of Rhodes for several centuries—were deemed suitably impressive to qualify as one of the Seven Wonders of the World (as determined in circa 150 BCE). But around 653, the remains were carted away by an invading military looking to capitalize on the scrap metal.
Today, a replica of the statue can be found in the town of Faliraki, while the actual suspected location of the statue, in Mandraki Harbor, is noted with a marker.
Visions for the Future
In addition to being significantly larger than the original, the proposed rebuilt Colossus would also include an interior library, museum, cultural center, exhibition hall, and a crowning lighthouse that can be seen from up to 35 miles away.
The structure would also employ modern technologies and construction techniques in order to make it earthquake-proof and wind-resistant. And in an homage to the Greek sun god Helios, the original statue’s inspiration, the exterior of the structure would be covered in golden solar panels.
Currently, it’s estimated the new statue could be constructed in three to four years for a total cost of more than $250 million. Funds would come from a combination of institutional investment and global crowdfunding.
In reanimating the statue, the team behind the proposed project hopes to inspire massive growth in tourism to the island specifically and Greece as a whole. In the process, they hope the project will supply much-needed jobs and an estimated two billion Euros in tourist money during a time when the Greek economy finds itself beset by troubles.
This isn’t the first time a team has proposed a reconstruction of the ancient Colossus. Updates were proposed in 1999 and in 2008, but neither project came to fruition. While no construction dates have been released for this latest proposal, here’s hoping that this one actually has legs.
In the meantime, there are plenty of great reasons to visit Rhodes, even if the statue never gets built. From the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea, to quaint, whitewashed houses, to warm ocean breezes, Rhodes makes for a veritable island paradise. A five-hundred-foot statue of Helios would simply be the icing on the cake.