Nebuchadrezzar (630-562 BC) was the king of Babylon, in Mesopotamia
(today's Iraq, the vast fertile region between the river Tiger and Euphrates). He managed to organize a terrible army, endowed with chivalry and war chariots, and conquered a vast empire after destroying the Assyrian
empire and laying in ruins the Assyrian capital Nineveh.
Nebuchadrezzar (in other languages more
known as Nabuchodonosor) was soon the ruler of all the Middle East, and all local people had to pay heavy taxes to the king of Babylon.
But in 597 BC, the Jews
of Palestine revolted. The Hebrew king decided not to pay any fee to Babylon. The enormous Babylonian army devastated Palestine and Jerusalem was occupied. The Hebrew chiefs were captured and deported to Babylon and the children of the Hebrew king Jehoiakim were beheaded in front of him.
In 589 BC, Hebrews revolted once again. Jerusalem was sieged for 18 months but finally surrendered. The revenge was terrible: the city was fired, the Great Temple destroyed, the nobles were beheaded and the Hebrew people were deported to Babylon. The Old Testament says the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel went in this exile and depicts Nabuchodonosor as a real tyrant.
Still, during the rule of Nabuchodonosor, Babylon turned into the most beautiful city of the world: enormous palaces, temples and famous Hanging Gardens were erected. The temples were called ziggurats and they were used by the astronomers to read the future in the stars. The largest ziggurat, the Tower of Zigurrat or Etemenanki, was 90 m (300 ft) tall. Perhaps this one was described by the deported Hebrews as the Tower of Babel (Babylon). Made of adobe, in time this ziggurat degraded and disappeared.
It is said that because the wife of Nabuchodonosor called Amuhia, a princess of Media
(in northwestern Iran), missed her natal lands with green lush vegetation (while Babylon was surrounded by desert), the king ordered the construction of the Hanging Gardens. They were included amongst the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.