The Recreation of the Ancient Wonder of Colossus

George A. Barboutis
Project Representative of the Municipality of Rhodes
Member of the Tourism Research Body of the Chamber of Dodecanese




“The Recreation of the Ancient Wonder of Colossus”


Throughout the years  of  human  history our economic society has shifted from the agricultural era,to  the industrial era and after  that to the information age. As our societyis changing, we are entering the   “dream  society”   era   where    emotions  and   fantasies are prevailing.  Therefore,  a   modern and  proactive tourism   system should aim   at   the  development  of   new  tourism   products  and services  in  the form of  consumable  experiences.  To  do  so, it  is necessary to structure a stimulating tourism environment where the visitor feels involved and directly participates with true and inspiring emotions.


Customers are no longer  happy with the products and destinations they  visit. There  is a growing mismatch between  products offered by  destinations  and  the needs  and  demands   of the increasingly experienced travelers. The  “products”  that  destinations  have to offer are not just the physical products such as hotels,restaurants and  attractions,  but   very   importantly,  the  experiences and   the innovative  services   that  are  important  in delivering  exceptional experiences for visitors. Thi s is critically important because tourism economic value  is  increasingly  being created  through the  staging and  orchestrating of  experiences  that are relevant  to  the needs of the customers rather  than extracting commodities, making goods or even  delivering services.


Rhodes is  today  a  part cularly saturated tourism  destination at  a stage  of  its  life cycle that already  presents intensely  evidence  of stagnation,   since   the  supply  of  tourism  accommodations   and services is considerably larger  than the demand.

How can Rhodes be reinvented and re-defined, in order  to become competitive in  the future? Which should be  the  mega-actions  and mega -events that willlead Rhodes to develop outstanding demand and  introduce  the destination  successfully into  the dream society, delivering exceptional  experiences  to its  visitors  exceeding their expectations?


Throughout the years of human history our economic society has shifted from the agricultural era, to the industrial era and after that to the information age. As our society is changing, we are entering the “dream society” era where emotions and fantasies are prevailing. Therefore, a modern and proactive tourism system should aim at the development of new tourism products and services in the form of consumable experiences. To do so, it is necessary to structure a stimulating tourism environment where the visitor feels involved and directly participates with true and inspiring emotions. Increasingly important is to change the type and attitude of tourism professionals and human resources personnel who should learn on how to involve customers by creating and narrating exciting legends and stories (SETE, 2004, Jensen, 2001).

Moving from Products and Services to Experiences

Customers are no longer happy with the products and destinations they visit. There is a growing mismatch between products offered by destinations and the needs and demands of the increasingly experienced travelers. The “products” that destinations have to offer are not just the physical products such as hotels, restaurants and attractions, but very importantly, the experiences and the innovative services that are important in delivering exceptional experiences for visitors. This is critically important because tourism economic value is increasingly being created through the staging and orchestrating of experiences that are relevant to the needs of the customers rather than extracting commodities, making goods or even delivering services (Poon, 2003, Poon, 2005).

“Destinations will need to reinvent themselves in order to be competitive and grow their industry in the future. Destinations need to move beyond offering products and services (hotels and attractions) to inventing, orchestrating and delivering exceptional experiences to their clients that exceed their expectations” (Poon,2003).


Economic offering Commodities Goods Services Experiences
Economy Agrarian Industrial Service Experience


Extract Make Deliver Stage
Nature of offering Fungible Tangible Intangible Memorable
Source: Pine and Gilmore: The Experience Economy, Harvard Business Press, 1999 p.6



Living in an era of constant social, technological and economic change a series of frequent questions come to mind such as: How tourism is going to look like in the future in Greece? How tourism is going to look like in Rhodes?

How Rhodes as a tourism destination can reinvent itself in order to become competitive in the future? What has to be done in this destination to keep up with future trends and boost significantly its momentum?

What mega action and subsequent events would lead Rhodes to enter successfully in the Dream Society and enable it to offer exceptional experiences to its visitors that exceed their expectations?


Have you ever thought of traveling to the River of Euphrates to visit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Have you ever desired to see the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus? Have you ever wanted to visit ancient Greece to admire the Statue of Zeus at Olympia sculpted by Phidias, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus or the Colossus of Rhodes? The Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Pyramids of Giza or any other Wonder of the ancient world?

You may say: “You must be out of your mind. Only one of them exists today.” I will tell you “That’s the main part of the idea. How would you feel about attempting to restore and revive these myths, enabling the visitors of today to experience the deep historical mystery of those legendary ancient sites?”

Archaeological evidence reveals some of the mysteries that surrounded the history of the Wonders for centuries. At the time of their construction for their creators, the Seven Wonders were a celebration of religion mythology, arts and science. Human imagination urged poets, writers, and historians to seek “replacements” for the fallen monuments. These very elements are the core product attributes of the proposed idea. These essential ingredients will urge people all around the world to live the overall experience to its utmost.



To  re-create  the  legendary  Wonder  of  Colossus  of  Rhodes  with  the  aim  to tangibilize the unique intangible value of the mythical monument”.

You may say “Are you implying on recreating an exact replica of the Ancient Wonder of Colossus” I will tell you “Of course not, such a thing would be rather anachronistic and sterile at nowadays because it would deprive many of the ever lasting attributes of the Wonder, the mystery, the artistic and the mythological values and most importantly it would hardly become a technological feat of the 21st century. We should not forget that all wonders attribute their grandeur and outstanding value because they were representing exceptional achievements at the time they were built given the resources, the scientific know- how and the technological materials available.

It would be rather damaging for the myth not to say suicidal to create a replica of a non-existent wonder. It is like attempting to replace the missing parts of the Parthenon of Athens. On the contrary, I suggest it should have neither archaeological implications nor intentions for pure imitation. We should only retain the symbolical value of the Wonder and attempt to become a successful continuation of it, enriched with a current, diachronic and perpetual ideological content”.


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 Colossus attempting to become a feat of our century. It should become a symbol of Greek civilization and should be enriched with a current, diachronic    idealistic content. Just like the Colossus was erected as a tribute to the Sun God of Helios to celebrate freedom and peace, its successor standing at the crossroads of three continents should become Rhodes’ and Greece’s contribution to the world emitting eternal light and symbolizing ecumenical world peace, to send messages of hope and optimism for the future generations to come.


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 built 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 around. Historical descriptions praise the legendary statue but left its exact form and location an archaeological mystery. It inspired though numerous artists to provide drawings according to their imagination (Mastrapas, 1993).

“To you, O Sun, the people of Dorian Rhodes set up this bronze statue reaching to Olympus when they had pacified the waves of war and crowned their city with the spoils taken from the enemy. Not only over the seas but also on land did they kindle the lovely torch of freedom”.

Dedicatory inscription of the Colossus




In search of location there are various sites that this new wonder could be located. Possible sites could be: The Mandraki Harbor, close to the Aquarium, near the Old Town, the Yachting Marina or even on an artificial island.

All locations have pros and cons that should be carefully examined on the basis of three criteria:

a) To secure maximum visibility suited to a grand scale To be visible from air and sea and diffuse its light to all points of the horizon.

b) To secure ease of access and ability for guests to visit it without major problems in transportation.

c) To avoid obstacles of accessibility to the port or the airport of



In order for the “new Colossus” to capture the essence of a 21st  century wonder, three fundamental elements must be secured: aesthetic perfection, artistic excellence and transcendence of conventional standards leading to a technological feat of unanimous recognition and worldwide acceptance. 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, the International Competition should be announced calling for artists, architects, and designers’ houses worldwide to participate in the project and offer their invaluable 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.


To secure transparency of procedures, a highly reputable Honorary Committee should be formed consisting of renowned personalities and distinguished celebrities from the fields of the arts, literature, politics and technology under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic to judge the most prominent proposal and offer a highly generous and honorary prize to the first three qualified contestants.

The most eminent proposal should express the epitome of the project’s salient attributes and characteristics carrying at the same time the symbolical values of the historical past and extending them in a diachronic, eternal and universal way to the future.



On the basis of the chosen proposal the timetable and budget for its realization will be determined. Even though it is very difficult to budget a priori such a project, it is estimated that a large number of the required funds can be attracted through a grand scale international Fund Raising campaign targeting at:

  1. Foundations (Greek and International)
  2. Donations (Major    Hellenic     institutions,     Corporations,    Arts    and    Cultural organizations )
  3. Subsidies (Greek Government, EU, UNESCO)
  4. Communities Support (Greece and abroad)
  5. Individual collections (Greek citizens, Greeks of Diaspora, Philhellenists ).


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   celebrities   (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.



Apart from donations future proceeds can be mainly accrued from visitors’ tickets. Additional revenues can be derived from selling merchandising items (books, albums, gifts, and so on) as well as other future commercial possibilities (CDs, DVDs etc.) given that copyrights have been legally protected.

The commercial utilization of the attraction sight and its future proceeds should be returned for its constant maintenance and reinvested for its continuous development in related to the Greek history and Rhodium cultural heritage areas. Such an area must be the creation of a Theme Museum employing guest interaction operation and virtual reality applications that would further enhance the experiences of the visitors.


  • Secures enormous and invaluable publicity for Rhodes Island and Greece that cannot be assessed in monetary terms.
  • Reestablishes in the most dynamic way Rhodes and Greece (after the Athens Olympic Games) in the world tourism map.
  • Creates increasingly high demand for the destination, opens new horizons and paves the way for new tourism evolutions.
  • Yields significant gains for the destination and skyrockets its momentum.
  • Achieves through sources of  sponsorships, donations  and  subsidies  its  self financing.
  • Its colossal historical nature, challenges and stimulates the most distinguished Artists around the world to participate, securing the eminence and prestige that such a landmark deserves.
  • Contributes significantly to the higher recognition of our national treasures and cultural heritage, converting our egocentric introverted mentality to cultural extraversion.
  • Strengthens the feeling of national pride and makes us equal successors of our ancient predecessors.


We are fully aware, that it takes infinite courage, boldness and valor to attain this noble achievement. After all, it represents a moral duty to historical Rhodes, an ethical debt to mythical Greece and an honorary obligation to humanity to offer a memorable Feat of such scale. Much like the Olympic Games, it is something so Hellenic that the whole country has to benefit and at the same time so ecumenical that the whole world will gain.


It is worth noting that this conference speech was based on previous proposals and speeches submitted:

  1. At the Municipal Council of Rhodes in July 1999, as a Millennium Project (and as part of the cultural proposal of the island and the country during the Olympic Games of 2004), with a monument inspired by the Colossus to symbolize the ideals of world peace and friendship among all people of the universe. It was voted unanimously by its members, but unfortunately was undermined by the state.
  1. At ALBA (Athens Graduate Business School). Presentation on Creativity & Innovation (SHRM) in year 2004.
  1. At the1st International Tourism Forum of the Scientific Committee of Tourism of the Chamber of Dodecanese “Trends and Innovation in Tourism Industry » in March 2005, with the title “Innovative Experiences through Mega attractions”.
  1. At the 3d Development Conference of the Dodecanese Prefecture in May 2005 “Growth & Change in Management of Tourism Destinations : “The case of the revival of the Ancient Wonder of Colossus “


Jensen, R., 2001, The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business, McGraw Hill: New York.

Mastrapas, A. 1993, The Colossus, Testimonies, & Opinions, Archaeology, Issue 47: April, May, June 1993.

Pine, B.J, & Gilmore, J.H., 1999, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, Harvard Business School Press: Boston, Mass.

Poon,  Auliana,  2003,  A  New  Tourism  Scenario-Key  Future  Trends,  Tourism Intelligence International: The Berlin Report, March 2003.

Poon,    Aliana,    2004,    Local    involvement    in    Tourism,    Tourism    Intelligence International 2005,

SETE,  2004,  THR  Marketing  Plan  for  Greek  Tourism  after  the  2004  Olympics,