European Architecture Students Assembly Colossus Vs. LandmARCH

European Architecture Students Assembly Colossus Vs. LandmARCH

“The Revival of the Ancient Wonder of the Colossus”

It is a fact that we are going through very hard times, when Greece is suffering from the heavier consequences of the worst postwar economic crisis, while at the same time is required to reconstruct the foundations of its cultural and tourism infrastructure.

At the times, however, that international public opinion is questioning with agony Greece’s ability to overcome this ordeal, let us see how the project of the Revival of the Colossus can give us the opportunity to benefit from our intangible and mythical cultural heritage to improve our country’s status with an emblematic and innovative project, enhancing significantly our reputation and increasing our global competitiveness.

HISTORIC EVIDENCE OF COLOSSUS                                         

According to historic records, the construction of the Colossus of Rhodes started in 304 B.C. and was completed twelve years later in 292 B.C. It was designed by the outstanding sculptor of that time Chares of Lindos and was 31 meters tall. It was erected as a tribute to the Sun God Helios, or Apollo, protector of the city of Rhodes to celebrate freedom and unity after the failure of Demetrius Poliorkitis to conquer the island.  It was made out of copper and bronze supplied from the war machines, which were abandoned at the outskirts of the city. It fell during an earthquake in 227 B.C. but it was left at that location for many centuries. In the seventh century, according to Byzantine sources, its pieces were transferred to Asia by Arabs and were sold as scrap metal (Mastrapas, 1993).

The Colossus, which literally means something gigantic, often has been depicted by artists and historians as towering over the historic port of Rhodes and as holding up a torch of peace – much like the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. Though adequate scientific proof of this is lacking, the same historic accounts say that it was visible to approaching ships from miles away. Historical descriptions praise the legendary statue but left its exact form and location as an archaeological mystery. It inspired though numerous artists and designers to provide drawings and paintings according to their imagination (Mastrapas, 1993).


Rhodes bears the myth of the Colossus, one of the seven wonders of the world which celebrated mythology, arts, science and religion, fields that have stirred the fantasy and imagination of generations for centuries. It΄s global reputation along with it΄s unparalleled mythical qualities are the elements that will inspire tomorrow’s visitors to experience and explore the mystery of those ancient times.


We must explore very carefully the proper ideological framework within which the project must be implemented in order to maximize its enormous potential, without devaluating its mythical historical value or degrading the future of the destination, but instead to enrich it, in such a way by capitalizing on its unique tourist and cultural benefits that it can provide.

Let’s have a look at what those intangible and symbolic values are and what the appropriate scope of ideological correlation is.

  • The Colossus was an ancient landmark, synonymous with Rhodes the world over. The contemporary one must become again a global landmark, a significant reason to visit Rhodes for travelers from around the world.
  • The original monument bore size, capacity, and the myth of an ancient wonder. The modern creation has to achieve the dimensions of a contemporary wonder. Only under such a perspective will it become a world landmark.
  • The Colossus was built as a tribute to the sun god Helios, freedom and peace. This new wonder must become a universal symbol of peace, hope and friendship among people.


The proposal, therefore, stands for the creative revival of the wonder in a modern, contemporary work-of-art that will transform the invaluable intangible characteristics and convey the symbolic values of the legendary monument.

It opposes to the idea of recreating a copy (replica) of the ancient monument. referring to anachronistic archaeological implications, or any intentions to pure imitations.

One such effort apart from being ill-timed, since historical data is incomplete and inaccurate, would devaluate the mysticism of the original statue and the coinciding mythology and artistic value of the original monument. It would be detrimental to the legend and the  history of the wonder, as well as, catastrophic for the destination to create a representation of a non-existent, in today’s day and age, wonder. We should not always forget that all wonders attribute their grandeur and outstanding value because they were representing exceptional achievements at the time they were created, given the resources, the scientific know- how and the technological means available. Consequently, any attempt to create an anachronistic imitation should be excluded beforehand.


To create a contemporary (21st century) wonder inspired by the Colossus the ancient wonder. It should be an evolutionary and a modern successor of it, borrowing the unique attributes, the symbolic characteristics and the artistic values of its predecessor, attempting to become a breakthrough achievement of our century. It should become a symbol of Greek civilization and should be enriched with a current, diachronic ideological content. 

“Just like the Colossus was built as a tribute to the Sun God of Helios to celebrate liberty and peace, its successor standing at the crossroads of three continents, should become Rhodes’ and Greece’s contribution to the world, and acting as a beacon  emitting eternal light symbolizing ecumenical peace, to send messages of hope and optimism for the future generations to come”.



We do believe that, according to the vision of the project, to create a modern 21st century wonder, two key qualities should be secured.

1) Artistic excellence of global recognition and worldwide acceptance.

2) Innovative (Breakthrough) technological achievement.

Therefore, the final form of the artistic expression of the new wonder should become the outcome of a worldwide competition, within which, the various images and pictures created in people’s imagination deriving from the myth of Colossus will take the form of tangible propositions.


Within this context, an International Architectural Design Competition should be announced calling for artists, architects, and designers’ houses worldwide to participate and offer their proposals. The challenge here will be that they will have to be inspired from the legendary symbolical attributes of the ancient Colossus and offer an artistic evolution of it, in accordance with the contemporary vision and the ideological content of the new wonder. They will have to present unconventional methods or materials or technical construction, providing at the same time, aesthetic perfection and artistic harmony with the historical environment and cultural heritage of Rhodes.

Alternatively we could directly assign the task to a well known artistic-architectural firm of global recognition and acceptance, which would provide immediate and unprecedented added value to the project (such as the innovative architect Zaha Hadid, the renowned  Santiago Calatrava, the award-winning Frank Gehry, creator of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and so forth), will capture the vision, the ideological framework and, of course, achieve targets for implementation.


It is suggested that an International Honorary Committee to be formed consisting of eminent personalities from the fields of politics, culture, literature, arts and technology with the aim to select the most prominent proposal, which will epitomize all aforementioned characteristics.

The committee should be established under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic, to secure worldwide acknowledgment, international acceptance and transparency of the procedures. 


The communication strategy should have as an aim to maximize the benefits of all potential publicity of this major undertaking attempting at the same time to attract all necessary funds for its realization through

  • Creation an international media and Public Relations campaign to raise awareness and interest worldwide.
  • Mobilization of Greek and international dignitaries (politicians, artists, intellectuals, actors etc) to offer their support in various ways.
  • Planning and creation of events to accompany various stages of the implementation of the project.


Based on the final proposal we will assess both the budget and the duration of project implementation.

Since it is very difficult to pre-establish the construction costs of such a project we believe that a large part of the necessary resources can be handled by an international fundraising campaign that can arise from:

  1. Sponsorships by Major Institutions in Greece and abroad.
  2. Grants from official agencies and international organizations, such as the European Union, UNESCO and others.
  3. Supports from Regional, Municipal and other Local Authorities.
  4. Donations by wealthy Greeks, Greeks living abroad, individuals and others.
  5. Offers made by ordinary Greeks and philhellenes from around the globe.


Despite the significant expected future returns of the proposed project, management must exclude any form of commercialization and focus on reinvestment of income, maintenance and further development such as the proliferation of Greek history and cultural heritage. This would be achieved by creating a thematic museum for the Colossus and establishing an International Center of Mediterranean peace which would house a cultural multiplex, including a conference center, exhibition spaces, auditorium, concert hall, and which would host major fairs and events.


The ultimate challenge of this undertaking would be to establish, in the long term, the idea that Rhodes has the potential to be recognized as a neutral island-venue of Peace in the wider Mediterranean region.

Rhodes with its multicultural identity and prominent strategic location, (situated in the geographical heart of three continents), is the ideal venue to bridge cultures and ideas, establish free dialogue and    promote the universal and timeless ideal of world peace and friendship amongst people and countries.



Although we have studied a variety of case studies of similar projects abroad, of both cultural and tourist nature, what simulates the characteristics of the intended project most is the revival of the ancient Library of Alexandria. It was founded around the 3rd century BC during the Ptolemaic Dynasty and was damaged by fire several times until 48 BC when it was destroyed. In the past it was considered to be the largest library in the ancient world and accumulated global knowledge and reflected the wealth of knowledge in antiquity thus contributing to the flourishing of the sciences (mathematics, astronomy, anatomy and so forth).
The idea of its revival began in 1974 with a view to reconstruct the wider geographical area considered to have surrounded the ancient library and the vision to make it a center for the production and proliferation of modern knowledge. It was also to become a forum for dialogue between peoples and cultures, opening a window from Egypt to the modern world and the modern world to Egypt, initiating the new digital era from this corner of the Mediterranean.

The Egyptian government was determined to carry out its reconstruction, which then came under the auspices of UNESCO. After a successful global architectural competition, the proposal of the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta was chosen amongst 1400 registered offers. Construction began in 1995 and completed in 2002 in cooperation with the Egyptian government, UNESCO and the United Nations. It cost $ 220,000,000 and the funding came from contributions of 27 countries including Greece.

The Library of Alexandria today, among other features, has:Six specialized libraries with millions of books.

A Digital library.

Four museums of antiquities, ancient manuscripts and ancient sciences.

A Planetarium.

Eight academic research centers and institutes including The Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies.

A Center for art and ancient calligraphy.

Fifteen permanent exhibitions with unique collections from ancient, medieval cultures and the modern sciences.

An International Convention Center where hundreds of events are planned annually.

The Modern Library of Alexandria accepts over 1,500,000 visitors from around the world every year.



Let us see in detail the pletora of  benefits and advantages for the destination and the country involved in the proposed revival of the ancient wonder of the Colossus.

While it initially appears to be an ambitious project for the further upgrading of tourism, which will create a great demand for the destination with significant economic benefits such as the reduction in unemployment, the increase in income and the establishment of ensuring future economic benefits to the island,

it will essentially be a magnificent cultural development, which will attract the interest of the global art community and will contribute to the promotion of our national treasures and elevate our cultural heritage.

The multidisciplinary development of this proposal, addresses also to a multidimensional framework of fields and benefits.

At the level of international communication, it ensures global publicity and worldwide acceptance. In terms of artistic creation, it is a unique challenge for renowned Greek and foreign artists, whose participation would provide guarantees for the aesthetic integrity of the project.

In terms of technological challenge, the project would promote innovation and should introduce new, ground-breaking construction techniques (through the use of new materials or new construction techniques and new technologies).

In terms of foreign policy and international relations, the creation of a Mediterranean Venue of Peace, in the geographical heart of three continents and would create major strategic implications and pacific opportunities in the wider region.

It may also, at the national level, mark the initiation of a series of corresponding cultural activities and creative tourist projects that can be launched and implemented in every part of Greece with its inexhaustible historical, mythological and cultural wealth.

From Athens, birthplace of Pericles, Plato, Socrates and Sophocles, to Aristotle’s  of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. From Minoan Crete, Homer of Chios, Hippocrates of Kos, Samos of Pythagoras and the Ithaca of Odysseus, Olympia, to Epidaurus and Delphi, the navel of the world.

Let us not forget that during this period of crisis, instability and hardship, a project of this caliber can provide substantial social benefits. A nationwide project, standing above all political parties, interests and beliefs, will ignite the healthy forces of this country, strengthen the moral virtues and raise the morale of Greeks to work in synergy towards achieving unanimous noble goals.

It is our responsibility to make a great leap forward by drawing inspiration from our historical past and mobilizing at the same time our most creative forces.
It would be a great opportunity to regenerate, and reignite our depleted virtues, sending a dynamic message that we Greeks with the small country and huge history do not remain trapped in a dormant state, but we make advances in an admirable manner, transforming our national introversion into cultural extroversion.


George Barboutis
Head of the Project of the Municipality of Rhodes
Member of the  Tourism Think Tank Committee of the Chamber of Dodecanese

Pertinent YouTube Video: