The New 7 Wonders of the World

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On 07-07-07, the New 7 Wonders of the World were announced in a spectacular ceremony held at the Estadio da Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal. The campaign to name the new wonders began in 2000 with almost 200 nominations coming in from all over the world and then in 2006 the list of candidates was narrowed down to 21. To get the final list, a global poll was conducted and over 100 million votes were cast through text messages and online at the 7 wonders website. At the ceremony Hilary Swank said, “Never before in history have so many people participated in a global decision.”

The traditional seven wonders, now called The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, all existed more than 2,000 years ago and were concentrated in the Mediterranean and The Middle East. The list was derived from records of marvels compiled by ancient Greek observers, the best-known being a writer in the 2nd century B.C named Antipater of Sidon. That list included The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria. These amazing sites have all vanished. The seventh on the list, the Pyramids at Giza, are the only surviving structures from the ancient world.

Since the sands of time or the desert have not washed the Pyramids at Giza away, they of course were on the lists of the 21 finalists for the new wonders of the world. However, after protests from Egyptian officials who said it was a disgrace that they had to compete, they were assured of retaining the status as a Wonder of the World. So in actuality, we have 7 new wonders and 1 ancient!

The 21 nominated sites and the symbols they stand for were:
Acropolis of Athens, Athens, Greece: Civilization, Democracy
Alhambra, Granada, Spain: Dignity, Dialogue
Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia: Beauty, Sanctity
Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico: Worship, Knowledge
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Welcoming, Openness
The Roman Colosseum, Rome, Italy: Joy, Suffering
Easter Island Moais, Easter Island, Chile: Mystery, Awe
The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France: Challenge, Progress
The Great Wall of China, People’s Republic of China: Perseverance, Persistence
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey: Faith, Respect
Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan: Clarity, Serenity
Kremlin, Red Square, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia: Fortitude, Symbolism
Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru: Community, Dedication
Neuschwanstein Castle, Fussen, Germany: Fantasy, Imagination
Petra, Jordan: Engineering, Protection
Pyramids of Giza (Honorary Candidate), Egypt: Immortality, Eternity
Statue of Liberty, New York City, United States: Generosity, Hope
Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom: Intrigue, Endurance
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia: Abstraction, Creativity
Taj Mahal, Agra, India: Love, Passion
Timbuktu, Mali: Intellect, Mysticism

And the Winners were:
The Pyramid at Chichen Itza (before 800 A.D.) Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Chichen Itza, which means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza (people)” is the most famous Mayan temple city. This city served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. It has many extraordinary structures including, the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, and the Playing Field of the Prisoners. The Pyramid of Kukulkan also known as “El Castillo” (the castle) is a huge pyramid with steps on all four sides, up to a temple on top. On the north side there is a shape of a plumed serpent – Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoat. During the spring and fall equinox, when the rising and setting of the sun casts a shadow on the serpent it looks as it is slithering down the side of the pyramid. The pyramid was the last, and said to be the greatest, of all Mayan temples.

Christ Redeemer (1931) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This statue of Jesus stands some 38m(105 ft) tall, weighs 700 tons and is located at the peak of the 2296-foot Corcovado (hunchback) mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The idea for a “Statue of the Christ” was proposed in 1921 and several designs were considered including a representation of the Christian cross, a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world. Eventually the statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms was chosen. Designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created by French sculptor Paul Landowski, it took five years to build and is made of reinforced concrete with the outer layer made of soapstone. A symbol of Rio de Janeiro, it also represents the warmth of the Brazilian people, who receive visitors with open arms.

The Great Wall of China (220 B.C and 1368 – 1644 A.D.) China
The Great Wall is the world’s longest human-made structure, stretching over approximately 6,400 km (4,000 miles). It is like a huge dragon that flies and stretches from east to west over deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus. Its history spans over 2000 years. At first the materials used were mainly earth, stones, and wood but then bricks, tiles, and lime were used in constructions. It has a maximum width of 30 ft (9.1m) and in some sections its height reaches 7.8 meters (25.6 ft) high. It is the largest human-made structure ever built in terms of surface area and mass. Much of this 7 Wonder has now disappeared but it is still a sight to behold and many say you can even see it with a naked eye from space but this has never been proven.

Machu Picchu (1460-1470), Peru
Also known as the “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu (“old mountain”) is the city in the clouds that was built by the founder of the Incan empire Pachacutec in 1440. This extraordinary site lies 2,350 m (7,710ft) above sea level on a mountain deep in the Amazon jungle. There are many theories as to what Machu Picchu was, including a defense fortification, an estate for Pachacutec and other nobility, or the site may have been used for religious ceremonies or maybe used as an observatory too. The space is composed of 140 constructions including temples, sanctuaries, parks and houses. One of the most interesting sites to see is the famous Intihuatana stone, or “hitching post of the sun.” It is a stone column rising from a stone block about the size of a grand piano. This is a solar clock that shows the dates for the 2 equinoxes every year. It is said that during the winter solstice the priests used to hold a ceremony in order to tie the sun to the stone to prevent it from disappearing all together.

Petra (9 B.C. – 40 A.D.), Jordan
Petra which means stone in Greek was once famously described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a sonnet by John William Burgon. Petra is an archeological site on the edge of the Arabian Desert and it was the dazzling capital of the Nabataean Arab nomads. It is known for its amazing tombs and intricately carved temple facades. The carvings were made into the soft sandstone some 2,000 years ago. The most impressive is al-Khazneh (“The Treasury”), a royal tomb that is carved out of the mountain and stands over 131ft (40m) high. The city also had an elaborate water tunnels and chambers that provided the residents with fresh drinking water. You may not know it but you have seen Petra before, it was featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as the Holy Temple where the Holy Grail is located.

The Roman Colosseum (70 – 82 A.D.) Rome, Italy
The Roman Colosseum’s name is believed to be taken from the 40m (130ft) statue or coloussus of Nero that stood near the site. The structure was a massive 48m (157.5ft) high, 188m (617ft) long, and 156m (512ft) wide and its design is the precursor to every modern sports stadium seen today. Originally capable of seating around 50,000 spectators, it was used for gladiatorial contests and other unbelievable spectacles, including being filled with water for Naval battles. The Colosseum’s huge crowd capacity made it essential to have a way in and out quickly for the attendees. So its architects developed a plan that is still seen in stadiums today, the amphitheatre was ringed by eighty entrances at ground level, 76 of which were used by ordinary spectators, the rest used by the emperor and his guests. Unfortunately much of it is in ruins with only the walls and corridors left standing. It was re-created via computer-generated imagery (CGI) for Ridley Scott’s 2000 film Gladiator, so you can see it “restored” to the glory of its heyday in the 2nd century.

The Taj Mahal (1630 A.D.) Agra, India
Shah Jahan, to honor the memory of his beloved late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, built one of the most beautiful “New 7 wonders of the World”, the Taj Mahal. Built between 1631 and 1648 with the help of 20, 000 workmen and 1,000 elephants, the Taj Mahal stands behind beautiful, formally laid-out walled gardens. The tomb is set against a plain across a river and so the background is only the sky, which enhances the magic and beauty of the Taj Mahal. The central dome is one of the most spectacular sites; it is 57m (187 ft) high in the middle. The building is perfectly symmetrical and the beauty of its lines and forms make it seem as it is floating or soaring. The material for the entire structure was brought from all over India and Asia. The outside is covered in a luminescent white marble from Makrana, Rajasthan and also 28 beautiful stones were used in the building. Including red sandstone, jasper, jade and crystal, turquoise, lapis lazuli, sapphire, coal, cornelian and diamonds. Every surface is decorated and The Taj Mahal is regarded as the most perfect jewel of Muslim art in India. Sadly, the cost of the building and his next project was so steep that the emperor was jailed by his own son and, could then only see the Taj Mahal from a small window. Nevertheless, this magnificent monument is enjoyed and awed at by thousands of visitors every year.

Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber created the New 7 Wonders Foundation in 2000, with a mission to protect humankind’s heritage across the globe. The New 7 Wonders campaign with its global voting has certainly increased interest in everyone’s home country sites as well as in finding out more about the sites all over the world. The company says it next wants to develop a new list of seven wonders of nature, with nominations from August 8, 2008.

For more info see the official site.

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