Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

They are the second oldest of the seven wonders, the only older wonder being the Pyramid of Giza.

These gardens were made by King Nebuchadnezzar to his Persian wife, Amytis, who was homesick for the rich flora of her homeland. Babylon was situated in the desert and thus not many plants were able to grow in the harsh conditions.

But the gardens that were built here astounded visitors who mentioned them in writings of ancient historians like Strabo, Philo or Herodotus. They were first mentioned of the Hanging Gardens date back to the 4th century B.C. when a Chaldaean priest, Berossus writes about them in his book Babyloniaca.

Only hints remain today of what the gardens might have been. The Hanging Gardens did not in fact hang but there were terraces built on top of each other. The plants weren’t rooted in the ground but on these layered terraces. The plants that grew on the upper levels over the years hang down mid-air created the illusion that the gardens were hanging, hence their name. One could also walk underneath the gardens.

The Greeks left no drawings, but describe them as being circular and triangular plots built in stages at the highest point of the city, some 22 meters overhead, with water fed to trees and plants by primitive irrigation systems. Brick columns filled with dirt might have supported the terrace plots to allow trees to grow inside them. The whole garden was around 120 meters long.

No one has yet located exactly where they were. Some historians even suggest that the Hanging Gardens were not located in Babylon but in another city like Nineveh. However, most of the site of ancient Babylon hasn’t been excavated yet and there are high chances that clues in regards to the gardens remain hidden beneath the ruins.

Of course, there's a raging debate over the existence of the gardens. It is possible Herodotus was merely conveying exaggerated reports of Middle East traders, for whom the Mesopotamian Empire’s capital was a stop-off along the ancient trade routes crossing the deserts. Even modern writers who make the dreary trip are understandably rhapsodic describing any oasis they discover.