In order to revive the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World concept with a list of modern wonders, a popularity poll to decide the New Seven Wonders of the World organized by the Swiss-based, government- controlled New7Wonders Foundation. The winners were announced on July 7, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal, based on more than 100 million votes cast through the Internet or by telephone.
The origin of the idea of seven wonders of the world dates back to Herodotus (484 BC – 425 BC) and Callimachus (305 BC – 240 BC), who made lists which included the Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon” Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes and Lighthouse of Alexandria. Only the Great Pyramid of Giza is still standing. The other six were destroyed by earthquake, fire, or other causes.
To be included on the new list, the wonders had to be man-made, completed before 2000, and in an acceptable state of preservation. Out of the 177 monuments which were up for consideration, the list was narrowed down to 21 sites on January 1, 2006, by a panel of six of world leading architects from five continents, such as Zaha Hadid, Cesar Pelli, Tadao Ando, Harry Seidler, Aziz Tayob, Yung Ho Chang and its President, Prof. Federico Mayor, the former Director General of UNESCO. The list was later reduced to 20 removing the Pyramids of Giza — the only remaining of the 1 Ancient Wonders of the World — from the voting and designating it an Honorary New7Wonders Candidate.
The project assigned what it called attributes to each finalist, such as perseverance for the Great Wall of China, and passion for the Taj Mahal. The primary goal of the campaign was to foster and encourage global exchange and intercultural appreciation. In addition, “Global Memory” was created, meaning 7 things that everyone worldwide can remember and share. The New Seven Wonders winners were Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico; Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Colosseum, Rome, Italy; Great Wall of China, China; Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru; Petra, Jordan; and Taj Mahal, Agra, India.
The famous Mayan pyramids of Chichen-Itza are over 1500 years old. The name Chichen-Itza is a Mayan word: CHI (mouth) CHEN (well) and ITZA (of the Itza tribe). Some believe people were occasionally thrown into the nearby cenote as sacrifices, and those who survived were believed to be seers. The site is divided into three sections. The North grouping of structures is distinctly Toltec in style.
The central group appears to be from the early period. The southern group is known as “The Old Chichen.” The central pyramid, also known as El Castillo is the main attraction and it has 365 steps, one step for each day of the year. Just beyond El Castillo, there is a ball court which has a mystery about the Mayan prophecy that on Dec. 22, 2012, the great warrior serpent Kukulkan will rise from the ground beneath the playing field and end the world for good.
Christ the Redeemer, a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is considered the largest art deco statue in the world. It stands 39.6 meters (130 ft) tall, including its 9.5 meters (31 ft) pedestal, and 30 meters (98 fit) wide. It weighs 635 tons and is located at the peak of the 700 meters (2,300 ft) Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. A symbol of Catholicism, the statue, made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, has become an icon of Rio and Brazil. It is said that in 1921, a group called Catholic Circle of Rio organized a Monument Week to attract donations and collect signatures to support the building of the statue.
The donations came mostly from Brazilian Catholics. The Statute of the Christ was designed by local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and sculpted by French sculptor Paul Landowski. At a cost of $250,000, the construction of the monument took nine years and was opened on October 12, 1931. In 2008, when a violent electrical storm hit the statue, it was left unscathed because soapstone, the material forming the outer layers of the statue, is an insulator.
The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy. It is the largest ever Colosseum built in the Roman Empire and one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. Its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian’s reign (81-96).
With a seating capacity of 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was initially used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. In the early medieval ear, the building ceased to be used for entertainment but was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, and quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine. Today, the Colosseum, which stands partially ruined, is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire during various successive dynasties. Since the 5th century BC, several walls have been built that were referred to as the Great Wall. One of the most famous is the wall built between 220-206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains today. The majority of the existing Wall was built during the Ming Dynasty.
The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has recently concluded that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km—6,259.6 km of sections of actual wall, 359.7 km of trenches and 2,232.5 km of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.
Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 meters (8,000 ft) above sea level on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru. Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu is one of the most familiar symbols of the Inca Empire. The Incas started building it around AD 1430 but it was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a hundred years later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire.
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its primary buildings are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. It was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Since it was not plundered by the Spanish when they conquered the Incas, it is especially important as a cultural site and is considered a sacred place.
Petra is an archaeological site in the Arabah, Man Governorate, Jordan, lying on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Renowned for its rock cut architecture, Petra was constructed by Nabataea’s as their capital city around 100 BC. The site was introduced to the Western world by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. In 1985, the UNESCO described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage and designated it as a World Heritage Site.
The Taj Mahal, also the Taj, is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Its construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
By the late 19th century, parts of the buildings had fallen badly into disrepair. British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a massive restoration project, which was completed in 1908. During this time the garden was remodelled with British-style lawns that are still in place today. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”