The Colossus of RhodesA gigantic bronze statue that once stood 32 meters (110 feet) high on a marbleplinth, the Colossus of Rhodes was built by its citizens to revere the Sun GodHelios who supposedly helped Rhodes to ward off Demetrius of Macedonia.Constructed by the engineer Chares of Lindos, the Colossus of Rhodes wascompleted after ten years of meticulous work so that the legs would sustain theenormous weight of the giant statue. Unfortunately, in 227 B.C., an earthquakecaused the Colossus to crack at the knee and set it in motion so that it collapsedinto pieces. Even so, the statue was so admired that it was left lying in hugefragments for over 900 years until its valuable parts were brought to Syria.
The Hanging Gardens of BabylonA magnificent garden paradise said to have been built in 7th century B.C. in the middleof the arid Mesopotamian desert, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were testimony toone man’s ability to, against all the laws of nature, create a botanical oasis of beautyamid a bleak desert landscape.King Nebuchadnezzar created the gardens as a sign of esteem for his wife Semiramis,who, legend has it, longed for the forests and roses of her homeland. The gardens wereterraced and surrounded by the city walls with a moat to repel invading armies. Thereremains doubt, however, amongst historians and archaeologists as to whether this lostparadise ever existed, given that excavations at Babylon have left no definitive trace ofthis mythical oasis.
The Lighthouse of AlexandriaBuilt to guide ships through the labyrinth of sandbars that created havoc for merchantsattempting to reach the port of Alexandria in Egypt, the Lighthouse or Pharos ofAlexandria was the only ancient wonder to have served a practical purpose. Builtbetween 299 and 79 B.C., the lighthouse stood some 166 meters, or around 500 feet,above the city’s western harbor and was financed by the Greek merchant Sostratus whowanted to help ensure the safety of shipping traffic.Polished bronze mirrors were specially devised to reflect sunlight out to sea duringdaytime, and fires were lit at night to serve as a beacon for lost ships at night. The towerstood relatively intact until a series of earthquakes and gradual deterioration from naturalelements caused the structure to collapse and eventually be dismantled for its stones.
The Mausoleum at HalicarnassusBuilt between 370 and 351 B.C., this monumental tomb was dedicated to King Mausolusof Caria by his grieving wife, Queen Artemisia, as a memorial to their great love.According to Plinius the Mausoleum once stood 45 metres (135 feet) high and wassurrounded by 36 columns, standing atop a marble pedestal at the intersection of thetwo main streets of Halicarnassus. The Mausoleum stood relatively intact until 1522A.D., when it was ordered destroyed as an example of Pagan art.
The Pyramids of EgyptThe only surviving wonder of the ancient world, the Pyramids of Egypt (Giza), were thephenomenal achievement of Egyptian construction and engineering. Built between 2600and 2500 B.C., the three pyramids at Giza encompass more than 5 million limestoneblocks which were painstakingly transported via timber sleds and by being rolled overthe top of logs.As cranes were as yet unheard of, each block had to be dragged via ramps up to itsdesignated place. According to Herodot, the largest of the three pyramids, known as theGreat Pyramid, (about 146 meters high) took 20 years to complete and served as thetomb for the Egyptian Pharoah Khufu. The pyramids represented the link betweenheaven and earth and were a signal to Horus, God of the World.
The Statue of ZeusThis gold and bejeweled statue was commissioned in 438 B.C. by the Council ofOlympia in reverence for Zeus, the ruler and most powerful of the Olympian gods. Thegreat statue was the work of the Athenian sculptor Phidias and was constructed insidethe Parthenon, the great temple overlooking the city.According to Philo of Byzantium, this was the most inspiring of all the seven wonders ofthe ancient world: ‘Whereas we greatly admire the other six wonders, we kneel in frontof this one in reverence…’. The statue of Zeus was later destroyed along with its templeafter an earthquake in 170 B.C.
The Temple of ArtemisThe greatest temple of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis once stood as the mostmagnificent accomplishment of Greek civilization and Hellenistic culture, built as atribute to Artemis – the Greek goddess of the hunt, mistress of Nature, protector of wildbeasts and the sister of Apollo. The Temple of Artemis was located in Ephesus (inmodern-day Turkey), which was to become the richest seaport in Asia Minor.It once consisted of 127 marble columns each standing 20 meters (60 feet) tall. Firstbuilt in the 6th century B.C., the temple was destroyed by fire 200 years later and thenrebuilt under the supervision of Alexander the Great. The great temple was eventuallydestroyed successively by invading Gothic hordes, earthquakes, and plunderers. Today,only a solitary column remains of this once-glorious structure.
The Pyramid at Chichén Itzá (before 800 A.D.) Yucatan Peninsula, MexicoChichén Itzá, the most famous Mayan temple city, served as the political and economiccenter of the Mayan civilization. Its various structures – the pyramid of Kukulkan, theTemple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, and the Playing Field of thePrisoners – can still be seen today and are demonstrative of an extraordinarycommitment to architectural space and composition. The pyramid itself was the last, andarguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples.
Christ Redeemer (1931) Rio de Janeiro, BrazilThis statue of Jesus stands some 38 meters tall, atop the Corcovado mountainoverlooking Rio de Janeiro. Designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created byFrench sculptor Paul Landowski, it is one of the world’s best-known monuments. Thestatue took five years to construct and was inaugurated on October 12, 1931. It hasbecome a symbol of the city and of the warmth of the Brazilian people, who receivevisitors with open arms.
Machu Picchu (1460-1470), PeruIn the 15th century, the Incan Emperor Pachacútec built a city in the clouds on themountain known as Machu Picchu (“old mountain”). This extraordinary settlement lieshalfway up the Andes Plateau, deep in the Amazon jungle and above the UrubambaRiver. It was probably abandoned by the Incas because of a smallpox outbreak and,after the Spanish defeated the Incan Empire, the city remained ‘lost’ for over threecenturies. It was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.
The Roman Colosseum (70 – 82 A.D.) Rome, ItalyThis great amphitheater in the centre of Rome was built to give favors to successfullegionnaires and to celebrate the glory of the Roman Empire. Its design concept stillstands to this very day, and virtually every modern sports stadium some 2,000 yearslater still bears the irresistible imprint of the Colosseum’s original design. Today, throughfilms and history books, we are even more aware of the cruel fights and games that tookplace in this arena, all for the joy of the spectators.
The Great Wall of China (220 B.C and 1368 – 1644 A.D.) ChinaThe Great Wall of China was built to link existing fortifications into a united defensesystem and better keep invading Mongol tribes out of China. It is the largest man-mademonument ever to have been built and it is disputed that it is the only one visible fromspace. Many thousands of people must have given their lives to build this colossalconstruction.
The Taj Mahal (1630 A.D.) Agra, IndiaThis immense mausoleum was built on the orders of Shah Jahan, the fifth Muslim Mogulemperor, to honor the memory of his beloved late wife. Built out of white marble andstanding in formally laid-out walled gardens, the Taj Mahal is regarded as the mostperfect jewel of Muslim art in India. The emperor was consequently jailed and, it is said,could then only see the Taj Mahal out of his small cell window.
Petra (9 B.C. – 40 A.D.), JordanOn the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabataeanempire of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of water technology, theNabataeans provided their city with great tunnel constructions and water chambers. Atheater, modelled on Greek-Roman prototypes, had space for an audience of 4,000.Today, the Palace Tombs of Petra, with the 42-meter-high Hellenistic temple facade onthe El-Deir Monastery, are impressive examples of Middle Eastern culture.
Angkor (12th century) CambodiaAngkor is the most important monument of the south-east Asian Khmer Empire and theworld’s largest sacred temple. Built during the reign of King Suryavaman, at thebeginning of the 12th century, Angkor is noted for its intricate ornamentation and strikingbeauty. With its water moats, concentric walls and magnificent temple mountain in thecenter, Angkor Wat symbolizes the Hindu cosmos, with its oceans at the periphery andthe Meru mountain at the center of its universe.
The Statue of Liberty (1886) New York City, U.S.A.The Statue of Liberty was a gift of the French government to the United States to honorthe ideals of freedom and independence. It was a very early gesture of nationalgenerosity. This huge statue became a symbol of hope and freedom for many hundredsof millions of people who immigrated to the United States during the 20th century to finda new life of peace and prosperity. It is also the one New7Wonders candidate that mostclosely resembles one of the Ancient 7 Wonders – The Colossus of Rhodes.
Statues of Easter Island (10th – 16th Century) Easter Island, ChileDiscovered on Easter Sunday, 1722 by Dutch explorer Jakob Roggeveen, this collectionof 25 meter-high stone sculptures still puzzles historians and archaeologists as to itsorigins. It is believed that a society of Polynesian origin settled here in the 4th centuryand established a unique tradition of monumental sculpture. Between the 10th and 16thcenturies, they erected the enormous stone figures, known as the Moai, which have longfascinated the entire world and endowed this island with a mythical atmosphere.
Stonehenge (3000 B.C. – 1600 B.C.) Amesbury, United KingdomConstruction of Stonehenge took place between ca. 3000 and 1600 B.C. With eachstone weighing around 50 tons, it is regarded as a truly amazing feat of engineering.Although it is not clear who built the monument, nor for what purpose, it has beenspeculated that it was either a temple dedicated to the worship of ancient earth deities,an astronomical observatory or a sacred burial site.
The Hagia Sophia (532 – 537 A.D.) Istanbul, TurkeyThe Hagia Sophia was erected during the reign of Emperor Justinian (532 – 537 A.D.),when the Byzantine Empire was at the height of its power and influence. The massivedome, which is the prominent architectural feature, has since often been used as amodel for the design of Islamic mosques. Indeed, after the fall of Byzantium, the HagiaSophia was converted into an Ottoman mosque. Today, the monument is a museumserving both Christians and Muslims.
Kiyomizu Temple (749 – 1855) Kyoto, JapanLaid out in 794 A.D., the palaces and temples of Kyoto were the residences of Japan’semperors and shoguns for more than 1,000 years. The Japanese Emperor is enthronedat the Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace). Among other significant works are the HigashiHonganji and Nishi Honganji temple complexes, the Kinkakuji Temple with its ‘GoldenPavilion’ and the Kiyomizu Temple, the temple of “clear waters.” The Kyoto sites havebeen destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout history and are today among Asia’sgreatest cultural heritage sites.
Neuschwanstein Castle (1869 -1884) Schwangau, GermanyNeuschwanstein Castle was built in a time when castles and fortresses were no longerstrategically necessary. Instead, it was born of pure fantasy – a beautiful, romanticcomposition of towers and walls in the perfect setting of mountains and lakes. Thecombination of various architectural styles and intrinsic craftwork has inspiredgenerations of adults and children alike.
Forbidden City – Beijing, ChinaThe Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial palace from the mid-MingDynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing,China. It now houses the Palace Museum. The complex consists of 800buildings with 8,886 rooms. It covers 720,000 square metres. The ForbiddenCity was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 as the "Imperial Palace of theMing and Qing Dynasties", and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection ofpreserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Bagan - MyanmarBagan, formerly Pagan, formally titled Arimaddanapura (the City of theEnemy Crusher) and also known as Tambadipa (the Land of Copper) orTassadessa (the Parched Land), was the ancient capital of several ancientkingdoms in Myanmar. It is located in the dry central plains of the country, onthe eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River, 145 kilometres (90 miles)southwest of Mandalay.
Teotihuacan (Mexico)Teotihuacán was, at its height in the first half of the 1st millennium CE, thelargest pre-Columbian city in the Americas. The name Teotihuacán is alsoused to refer to the civilization or culture that this city was the center of,which at its greatest extent included much of central Mexico. Its influencespread throughout Mesoamerica; evidence of Teotihuacano presence, if notoutright political and economic control, can be seen at numerous sites inVeracruz and the Maya region.
Acropolis of Athens (Greece)The Acropolis of Athens is the best known acropolis (high city, The "SacredRock") in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis in Greece, thesignificance of the Acropolis of such that it is commonly known as TheAcropolis without qualification. The Acropolis was formally proclaimed as thepre-eminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list of monumentson the 26th of March, 2007. The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock which rises512 ft above sea level in the city of Athens.
Qin Terra Cotta Warriors (China)The Terracotta Army or Terracotta Warriors and Horses is a collection of8,099 life-size Chinese terra cotta figures of warriors and horses located nearthe Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. The figures were discovered in 1974near Xian, Shaanxi province, China. The Terracotta Army was buried with theEmperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huangdi) in 210-209 BC. Their purpose was to helprule another empire with Shi Huangdi in the afterlife.
The Old City of Jerusalem (Israel)The Old City of Jerusalem is a 0.35 square mile area of the modern day city ofJerusalem. Until the 1860s this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem.The Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: the TempleMount and its Western Wall for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre forChristians, and the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims.
Borobudur (Indonesia)Borobudur is a ninth century Buddhist Mahayana monument in Central Java,Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by threecircular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddhastatues. A main dome is located at the center of the top platform,surrounded by seventy-two Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.
Timbuktu (12th century) MaliIn the 12th century, Timbuktu was at the crossroads of the four mostimportant caravan paths supplying the Arab world, which then spanned fromthe Middle East all the way to Spain. The accumulation of wealth made it oneof the wealthiest places on earth at the time. This allowed one of the firstuniversities in the history of humankind to be established– the celebratedIslamic university called the Koranic Sankore, where 20,000 students studiedlaw, medicine, rhetoric, etc.
The Kremlin and Red Square (1156 – 1850) Moscow, RussiaBuilt as a residence for Ivan I, the Kremlin was the official residence of theCzars until the 1917 Russian Revolution. Today, it still houses the President’soffice. In front of the Kremlin is Red Square – an impressive and exuberantplaza which, for many people, is associated with the infamous May Daydemonstrations. Rising from the square is St Basil’s Cathedral, built in the1550s to commemorate Ivan the Terrible’s capture of the Mongol strongholdof Kazan.
The Eiffel Tower (1887 – 89) Paris, France The creation of Gustave Eiffel, this magnificent steel tower has come to serve as a symbol of Paris, as well as of France itself. The structure is not only a landmark that is recognized all over the world, but is perhaps the most popular architectural achievement in the Western world. It was the tallest man-made structure in the world until the Empire State Building was constructed. The tower is visited by six million people every year.
Sydney Opera House (1954 – 73) Sydney, AustraliaWhen the Sydney Opera House was finished in 1973, this landmark building –in the true sense of the expression, – put the whole continent of Australia onthe world map. This building does not imitate or reflect what we generallyimagine an opera house might look like, indeed, it is a completely abstractinterpretation. The ability to create abstract art only developed after theinvention of photography in the late 19th century, when painters first beganto experiment with an abstract, cubist interpretation of reality.
Alhambra (12th century) Granada, SpainMohammed I, the first king of the Nasriden – a Moorish dynasty in Granada –converted a 9th-century castle into his private royal residence, and it is thiswhich we now know as the Alhambra. The structure, which covers an area of13 hectares, is renowned for its stunning frescoes and interior detail. Thebuilding is one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in the worldand is among Europe’s most-visited tourist attractions.