King Nebuchadnezzar II took the throne in 604 B.C., and he is credited with destroying the Jewish temple built by King Solomon. Legend states that he built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but scholars debate whether he directed the construction.
Nebuchadnezzar spent much of his reign conquering new territory. He fought with Egypt for several years and captured Jerusalem in 597 B.C. After taking control of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar took many Hebrew families prisoner and exiled others. His reign is referred to as the Babylonian captivity of Egypt.
Early history books indicate that Nebuchadnezzar built the hanging gardens to please his wife, who was from a mountainous area. The gardens allegedly were full of exotic flowers and herbs that needed extensive irrigation to thrive in the desert. However, recent excavations indicate that the famed gardens were probably built in Nineveh by King Sennacherib.
Although Nebuchadnezzar's credit for the gardens is disputed, history indicates that he completed several other building projects during his reign. Nebuchadnezzar defended Babylon by enclosing the city with fortress walls that were 32 feet thick. He also restored many canals and religious structures. Nebuchadnezzar's son succeeded him in 562 B.C.