The Hanging Gardens of Babylon - Seven Wonders

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Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, King Nabopalassar of Babylon was brought the news he had long been waiting for. His army, combined with the Medes, had at last destroyed Nineveh, capital of the brutal Assyrian Empire, and defeated the Assyrian army. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is one of the seven wonders of the ancienf world and one of the seven wonders of the world.

Triumphantly, Nabopalassar prepared to build a great empire for his successors. How this was done is vividly reported in the Bible, which tells how the Chaldeans, as the Babylonians were then called, built their empire on the successes of war.

Nabopalassar died and his son Nebuchadnezzar, a successful soldier, succeeded him. Nebuchadnezzar's aim was to build Babylon as a monument to his glory. Fortresses and strongpoints were raised along its walls, a bridge was built to span the river and the fortified royal palace, reached by the Ishtar Gate, rose in splendour above the city.

Close to his palace Nebuchadnezzar built his amazing Hanging Gardens, which Greek visitors to Babylon described as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The King made the gardens, it was said, to please his Queen, who was a Princess of the Medes the same tribe that had allied itself to his father for the final overthrow of the Assyrians.

The Queen, so the story went, disliked the flatness of Babylon, and was homesick for the hills of her native land, so Nebuchadnezzar had his gardens laid out on terraces to form a man made hill. The terraces were connected by steps 3 metres wide, and they were built in tiers held up by vast arches, raised upon other arches, one above the other to a height of 100 metres. A strengthening wall 7 metres thick surrounded the gardens.

Huge flat stones covered with lead were laid on top of the arches, in which the plants were grown. Elaborate building techniques prevented the earth's moisture from reaching the arches and underming them, and all the gardens were watered by a pump, probably worked by slaves on the top tier, which drew water from the river below.

Everywhere there was water, cascading in waterfalls and trickling unseen into the lead-based flower beds to maintain the lush oasis. Thus the Hanging Gardens, with the pulse of summer in the air, glistened like a jewel in the bustling capital of Nebuchadnezzar's exotic empire.

As Assyria had fallen, so did the Babylon that Nebuchadnezzar built. It lasted less than a century before it surrendered to Cyrus of Persia. Today Babylon is a ruin, mouldering in the dry desert of Iraq, and all that remains of its fabulous Hanging Gardens, built to please a homesick Queen, are a few arches and an empty well.

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