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New Seven Wonders of the World

Swiss foundation initiated a campaign to identify the New Seven Wonders of the World. Considering that the original Seven Wonders list dates back to the 2nd century BCE, with only one of the original structures, the Pyramids of Giza, still intact, it was deemed appropriate to create a contemporary list. This endeavor garnered widespread global participation, with over 100 million votes cast via the Internet or text messaging. Upon the announcement of the final results in 2007, reactions ranged from enthusiastic cheers to some criticisms, particularly regarding the exclusion of prominent contenders such as Athens’s Acropolis. Do you concur with the selections of the new list?

Great Wall of China: A Monumental Marvel

Describing the Great Wall of China as “great” might be an understatement. Regarded as one of the world’s most extensive building projects, this monumental structure is believed to span approximately 5,500 miles (8,850 km), although a disputed Chinese study claims a staggering length of 13,170 miles (21,200 km). Construction commenced in the 7th century BCE and persisted for two millennia. Despite its moniker as a “wall,” the structure often features parallel walls along extended sections. Moreover, watchtowers and barracks are interspersed throughout its expanse. Despite its intended purpose of defense against invasions and raids, the wall’s effectiveness in providing security has been questioned by scholars, who suggest it served more as political propaganda.

Chichén Itza: A Mayan Marvel of Astronomy and Sport

Chichén Itzá, nestled in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, flourished during the 9th and 10th centuries CE as a Mayan city heavily influenced by the Toltecs. This period saw the construction of several significant monuments and temples, including the stepped pyramid El Castillo (“The Castle”), towering 79 feet (24 meters) above the Main Plaza. Symbolic of the Mayans’ astronomical prowess, the pyramid boasts 365 steps—representative of the solar year’s days. During the equinoxes, the setting sun casts shadows on the pyramid, creating the illusion of a serpent descending the north stairway, culminating in a stone snake head at the base. Beyond scientific endeavors, Chichén Itzá boasts the largest tlachtli, a Mesoamerican sporting field, in the Americas, where ritual ball games were played.

Petra: The Enigmatic Rose City

Nestled in a remote Jordanian valley amidst sandstone cliffs, the ancient city of Petra boasts a rich history. Believed to be a site where Moses struck a rock, Petra later served as the capital of the Nabataeans, an Arab tribe. Flourishing as a pivotal trade center, particularly for spices, Petra’s sandstone cliffs were intricately carved by skilled Nabataean artisans to fashion dwellings, temples, and tombs. Complemented by a sophisticated water system facilitating lush gardens and agriculture, Petra reached its zenith with a reported population of 30,000. However, trade route shifts and seismic disasters precipitated its gradual decline, leading to abandonment until its rediscovery in 1912.

Machu Picchu: The Mystical Incan Citadel

Machu Picchu, nestled near Cuzco, Peru, was “discovered” in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, who initially believed it to be Vilcabamba, a fabled Incan sanctuary during the 16th-century Spanish conquest. Though this theory was debunked, Machu Picchu’s purpose remains enigmatic. Various interpretations range from a royal retreat to a pilgrimage site or residence for the “Virgins of the Sun.” Remarkably preserved, Machu Picchu boasts intact agricultural terraces, plazas, residential quarters, and temples, despite its remote Andean mountain location. Notably, a beer commercial mishap in 2000, resulting in a damaged monument due to a fallen crane, marred the site’s tranquility.

Christ the Redeemer: A Symbolic Sentinel in Rio de Janeiro

Perched atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer stands as a monumental symbol of faith and artistry. Conceived in the aftermath of World War I amidst fears of secularism, this colossal statue was envisioned as a spiritual beacon by its designers. Towering 98 feet (30 meters) above its 26-foot (8 meters) base, with outstretched arms spanning 92 feet (28 meters), Christ the Redeemer is the world’s largest Art Deco sculpture. Despite its symbolic significance, the statue has faced recurrent lightning strikes, resulting in damage to Jesus’s right thumb during a 2014 storm.

Colosseum: Rome’s Monument to Spectacle and Tragedy

Commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in the 1st century, the Colosseum in Rome stands as an architectural marvel of antiquity. Spanning 620 by 513 feet (189 by 156 meters), this amphitheater features an intricate system of vaults capable of accommodating 50,000 spectators. Witness to a variety of events, including gladiator contests and mock naval battles, the Colosseum’s association with Christian martyrdom remains a subject of debate. Estimates suggest that up to 500,000 people perished within its confines, with numerous animal species reportedly facing extinction due to relentless capture and slaughter.

Taj Mahal: A Monument to Love and Mughal Splendor

The Taj Mahal, a mausoleum complex in Agra, India, epitomizes Mughal architectural brilliance and enduring love. Constructed by Emperor Shah Jahān as a tribute to his beloved wife Mumtāz Maḥal, who died in childbirth in 1631, the complex took approximately 22 years and 20,000 artisans to complete. Adorned with intricate semiprecious stone inlays, the mausoleum’s white marble façade radiates with geometric and floral patterns. Its majestic central dome, flanked by four smaller domes, presides over an expansive garden graced by a reflective pool. Despite Shah Jahān’s unrealized aspiration for a black marble mausoleum for himself, the Taj Mahal endures as a testament to enduring love and architectural grandeur.

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