At one point, I was a classics major. I can easily still rattle off info such as the entire Greek alphabet and the ancient seven wonders of the world. Throughout my extensive travels, I’ve even been to the sites where three of those ancient wonders once stood (or were rumored to stand). Strangely, however, I haven’t been to the only one that actually still exists today (the Great Pyramid of Giza)… It’s top of my list!
Since there is only one remaining ancient wonder, it made sense that a new list should be developed of sites that do still stand today. Thus, New7Wonders was born. This organization worked with UNESCO and the UN to create a long list of contenders, which were then narrowed down to 21 finalists. They chose towers, buildings, complexes, cities, statues, any notable “wonders” on any continent around the world. They ranged from older than some of the original ancient wonders, to contemporaries of them, to sites that are actually quite new. Anyone could view this list on their website and vote for their choices for which should be the final New Seven Wonders of the World.
Of course, I voted 🙂 Me and about 600 million other people around the world. New7Wonders organized a lavish unveiling ceremony to reveal the voting results in Lisbon, Portugal on the appropriate date of July 7, 2007: 07/07/07. Anyone who voted was invited to attend the ceremony. I just happened to be living in Prague, Czech Republic that summer, getting certified as a TEFL instructor. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from Prague to Lisbon, right? I certainly thought so! So I convinced a friend to join me and flew to Portugal for the weekend to attend the unveiling ceremony. The show was much more of a spectacle than I anticipated, with several celebrity guests and international performers. Very cool!
Due to my involvement in their choosing and my attendance at their unveiling, I feel a personal connection with the New Seven Wonders. In fact, when I achieved my life travel goal of visiting all seven continents at the ripe old age of 25, it was only natural that my new life travel goal would be to visit all of the New Seven Wonders. At the time I set that goal, I had visited three of them already. As I write this today, I’ve added dozens of countries and many thousands of miles to my travel belt but somehow not a single further wonder of the world. Here’s hoping this post will inspire me to finally check off a fourth! May it inspire you as well 🙂
New Seven Wonders of the World
So, exactly which wonders are on the new list? Happily, four of my seven picks made the final cut. I’m copacetic about two of the others and understand the third. Overall, it’s a good list! In no particular order, here are the New Seven Wonders of the World:
Built in the mid-1600s, the Taj Mahal is an enormous white marble mausoleum. It was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The capital of the Arab Nabataeans possibly as early as 312 BCE, Petra is famous as a city carved from stone cliffs. Its other claim to fame is its water conduit system, valuable in the desert.
Completed in 80 CE, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built. It could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. Famous for its gladiator fights, people also flocked there to see animal hunts, executions, battle reenactments, and drama performances.
This mesoamerican step-pyramid is actually called “El Castillo” (the castle) or the Temple of Kukulcan. “Chichen Itza” is the name of the entire archeological site surrounding the pyramid. About 30m (99ft) high, it was built by the Maya sometime between 800 and 1100 CE to honor their feathered serpent god, Kukulkan.
Great Wall of China
The “Great Wall” is actually a series of fortifications and walls built as early as the 7th century BCE and later strengthened and joined together in places. The wall runs roughly east-west along China’s northern border and was meant to protect the country from raids and invaders.
Christ the Redeemer
By far the newest New Wonder, this art deco statue was completed in 1931. It is a 30m (99ft) tall depiction of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched 28m (92ft) wide. Standing at the peak of Corcovado Mountain, it overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro.
This Inca citadel was built around 1450, high in the mountains of Peru. It is thought to have been an estate for the emperor Pachacuti. Abandoned for centuries after the Spanish conquest, it was brought to the world’s attention by historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Since then, many of the polished stone buildings have been restored and reconstructed.
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