The New Seven Wonders of the World emerged in 2000 when the New 7 Wonders Foundation (N7W), a company based in Zurich, Switzerland, launched a campaign to determine the new wonders. Given that only one of the original ancient Wonders of the World remained standing, it seemed fitting to recognize new architectural marvels. Over 100 million votes were cast, primarily by genuine individuals since the prevalence of internet bots was not a concern at that time.
In 2007, the New Seven Wonders of the World were officially announced.
The selection process was not without controversy, as many people had differing opinions on the outcome. However, the votes were cast, and the wonders were named. Having personally visited all seven of them, we must admit that we agree with the majority of the choices. While there are undoubtedly other incredible places on Earth, the following locations left us awestruck and filled with wonder.
Petra, also known as Al-Batrāʾ in Arabic and Πέτρα in Ancient Greek, is an extraordinary historical and archaeological city located in the southern region of Jordan. Renowned for its remarkable rock-cut architecture and intricate water conduit system, Petra has earned the epithet of the Rose City, owing to the captivating hue of the stone from which it is intricately carved.
Founded potentially as early as 312 BC, Petra served as the capital city of the Arab Nabataeans. It stands as a powerful symbol of Jordan and remains the country’s most popular tourist attraction. The Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab people, capitalized on Petra’s strategic location along important trade routes, transforming it into a bustling hub of commerce and accumulating great wealth. Their expertise in constructing ingenious water collection methods in the arid desert and their mastery in carving structures into solid rock are widely recognized. Nestled on the slopes of Jebel al-Madhbah, believed by some to be the biblical Mount Hor, within a basin surrounded by the majestic mountains that form the eastern boundary of Arabah (Wadi Araba), a vast valley stretching from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba, Petra has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
The existence of Petra remained hidden from the Western world until 1812 when Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt brought it to international attention. It was aptly described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in an acclaimed poem by John William Burgon, which won the prestigious Newdigate Prize. Recognized by UNESCO as an invaluable cultural treasure, Petra was honoured as one of the New7Wonders of the World in 2007 and was also featured among the “28 Places to See Before You Die” by the Smithsonian Magazine.
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Christ the Redeemer, known as Cristo Redentor in Portuguese, is an iconic Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ situated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It was crafted by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski and brought to life by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa in collaboration with French engineer Albert Caquot. The statue’s visage was skillfully sculpted by Romanian artist Gheorghe Leonida. Towering at a height of 30 meters (98 feet), excluding its 8-meter (26-foot) pedestal, the statue boasts arms that span an impressive 28 meters (92 feet). To provide a sense of scale, it is roughly two-thirds the height of the Statue of Liberty from its base to the torch.
Weighing a remarkable 635 metric tons (625 long tons or 700 short tons), the statue rests atop the Corcovado mountain, soaring 700 meters (2 300 feet) above sea level within the Tijuca Forest National Park, overseeing the captivating city of Rio. Symbolizing Christianity worldwide, Christ the Redeemer has transcended its religious significance to become an emblematic cultural symbol of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. Its inclusion in the prestigious list of the New Seven Wonders of the World further attests to its profound impact. Constructed between 1922 and 1931, this magnificent statue is made of reinforced concrete and adorned with soapstone, showcasing a harmonious blend of materials and craftsmanship.
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is a massive oval amphitheatre in Rome. Constructed between AD 72 and AD 80, it could hold up to 80 000 spectators and was used for gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, and other spectacles. Despite damage from earthquakes, it remains an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and a popular tourist attraction. The Colosseum is depicted on the Italian five-cent euro coin and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, also known as Machu Picchu, is a remarkable Inca citadel dating back to the 15th century. It sits atop a mountain ridge at an impressive elevation of 2 430 meters (7 970 feet) above sea level. Located in the Machupicchu District of the Urubamba Province, within the Cusco Region of Peru, it overlooks the Sacred Valley and is approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Cuzco, with the Urubamba River meandering through the valley.
Historians widely believe that Machu Picchu was originally constructed as a royal estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas” (a title more accurately associated with Vilcabamba), Machu Picchu stands as the most iconic symbol of Inca civilization. The estate was built around 1450 but abandoned approximately a century later during the Spanish Conquest. Despite being known locally, it remained hidden from the Spanish during the colonial period and only gained international recognition in 1911 when American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to the world’s attention.
Architecturally, Machu Picchu showcases the classic Inca style, characterized by its meticulously crafted dry-stone walls. Among its notable structures are the Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. While many peripheral buildings have been reconstructed to provide visitors with a glimpse of their original appearance, the site continues to undergo restoration efforts. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored, and restoration work remains ongoing.
Recognizing its historical significance, Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1983. Furthermore, in 2007, it was distinguished as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World through a global internet poll.
Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal, also known as the Crown of Palaces, is a magnificent mausoleum made of ivory-white marble. It is located on the southern bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, India. Recognized as one of the New7Wonders of the World from 2000 to 2007, this iconic structure was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1632. Its purpose was to serve as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
At the heart of a 42-acre complex, the Taj Mahal stands as the centrepiece. The complex includes a mosque, a guest house, and meticulously designed formal gardens surrounded by a crenellated wall on three sides. Construction of the mausoleum was largely completed in 1643, but additional work on various aspects of the project continued for another decade. By 1653, the Taj Mahal complex was believed to be entirely finished. The estimated cost of the construction at that time was around 32 million rupees, equivalent to approximately 52.8 billion rupees (US$827 million) in 2015. Over 20,000 artisans worked on the project, guided by a team of architects led by Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, the court architect to the emperor.
In recognition of its exceptional beauty and significance, the Taj Mahal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It is celebrated as a stunning example of Mughal architecture and is cherished as a symbol of India’s rich historical heritage. Revered poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore described it as “the tear-drop on the cheek of time.” Each year, the Taj Mahal attracts millions of visitors, with its grandeur and allure captivating people from around the world.
The Great Wall of China, China
In the People’s Republic of China, there are 15 provinces comprising Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Gansu, Xinjiang, Shandong, Henan, and Qinghai. These provinces encompass a total of 404 counties.
The Great Wall of China is a renowned defensive structure consisting of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials. It was primarily constructed along the historical northern borders of China, extending in an east-to-west direction. The purpose of the Great Wall was to safeguard Chinese states and empires from the incursions and invasions of nomadic groups from the Eurasian Steppe. Construction of various walls began as early as the 7th century BC, and over time, these walls were joined together, fortified, and collectively became known as the Great Wall. One particularly famous section was built between 220 and 206 BC under the rule of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, although little of it remains today. Since then, the Great Wall has undergone periods of rebuilding, maintenance, and enhancement, with the majority of the existing structure dating from the Ming Dynasty.
Beyond its defensive role, the Great Wall served other purposes such as border control, facilitating trade along the Silk Road, and regulating immigration and emigration. Additionally, the wall’s defensive capabilities were bolstered by the construction of watchtowers, barracks, garrison stations, and signalling systems using smoke or fire. Furthermore, the path of the Great Wall also functioned as a transportation corridor.
Stretching from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west, the Great Wall generally delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. Through comprehensive archaeological surveys utilizing advanced technologies, it has been determined that the Ming walls measure approximately 8,850 kilometres (5,500 miles). This includes 6 259 kilometres (3 889 miles) of actual wall sections, 359 kilometres (223 miles) of trenches, and 2 232 kilometres (1 387 miles) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey estimated the total length of the entire wall, including all its branches, to be approximately 21 196 kilometres (13 171 miles).
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan, is a magnificent Mesoamerican step-pyramid situated at the heart of the Chichen Itza archaeological site in the Yucatán state of Mexico. Referred to as Chichen Itza Structure 5B18 by archaeologists, this architectural marvel was constructed by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization during the period from the 9th to the 12th centuries CE.
Serving as a revered temple dedicated to the deity Kukulkan, the Yucatec Maya Feathered Serpent, El Castillo holds great significance within Mayan culture and is closely associated with the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl and other central Mexican cultures of the Postclassic era.
The pyramid is composed of a series of square terraces, with stairways ascending each of its four sides leading to the temple located at its summit. Adorning the northern balustrade are sculptures depicting plumed serpents. During the spring and autumn equinoxes, the late afternoon sun casts triangular shadows against the northwest balustrade from the pyramid’s northwest corner, creating a mesmerizing illusion of a feathered serpent “crawling” down the structure. While this event has gained popularity, there is uncertainty regarding whether it was intentionally designed.
Each of the pyramid’s four sides consists of 91 steps. When these steps are counted, including the temple platform at the pinnacle as the final “step,” a total of 365 steps is achieved, aligning with the number of days in the Haab year.
The structure stands at a height of 24 meters (79 feet), with an additional 6 meters (20 feet) for the temple. Its square base measures 55.3 meters (181 feet) across, showcasing the impressive scale and craftsmanship of the Maya civilization.
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