Sunday, July 8, 2007

In 1999, Bernard Weber started the New7Wonders foundation, and eight years, 200 candidates and 100 million votes later, seven man-made structures now have something in common – they all hold the title of ‘Wonder’. Weber claims he started the foundation to ensure that “everybody can decide what the new seven wonders should be and not some government, not some individuals, not some institutions.”

Nominated structures had to be built or discovered before the year 2000, and out of the 200 nominations, only twenty-one were left by the early part of last year. Voting had been taking place for six months, but only recently did voting result in server crashes, causing the foundation to encourage text message voting.

The results were announced at a ceremony hosted by Hilary Swank, Ben Kingsley and Bollywood star Bipasha Basu in Lisbon, Portugal. Out of the twenty-one, the following seven were announced as the new ‘Wonders of the World’:

  • Great Wall of China, in northern China. It was created in the 5th century BC to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire. The Wall is the world’s longest human-made structure, stretching over 6,400 km (4,000 mi).
  • Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The giant statue of Jesus Christ is 38 m (105 ft) tall and weighs 700 tonnes. The statue is located at the peak of the 700 m (2296 ft) Corcovado mountain, overlooking the city of Rio.
  • Machu Picchu, above the Urubamba Valley, Peru. It is a city created by the Inca Empire, located on a mountain ridge. Machu Picchu was forgotten for centuries by the outside world, however not by the locals. It was brought to international attention by archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911.
  • Petra, in Jordan. It is famous for having many giant stone structures carved into the rock. The site was revealed to the Western world by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812, but remained accessible only to Europeans until after World War I.
  • Chichen Itza, on the Yucat√°n Peninsula, Mexico. It is a large archaeological site originally built by the Maya civilization. Chichen Itza was a major regional center in the northern Maya lowlands. Archaeological data suggest that Chichen Itza’s collapse was violent.
  • Taj Mahal, in Agra, India. It is a white marble mausoleum generally considered the finest example of Mughal architecture. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned it for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and it was constructed between 1632 and 1648.
  • Colosseum, in Rome, Italy. It is a giant amphitheatre located in the centre of the city, and was capable of seating around 50,000 spectators. It was constructed between 70 AD and 80 AD, and used for nearly 500 years for a variety of events.

Although the foundation had large amounts of public support, UNESCO, the United Nations cultural program, distanced themselves from the project, saying it had “no link whatsoever” to the project. UNESCO currently keeps tabs on 851 places in its ‘World Heritage Sites‘ program.

Left out of the Seven are the Pyramids of Giza, to which a respected Egyptian antiquities expert replied that the pyramids are a “symbol of the genius of the ancient people.” The foundation announced that the pyramids would have “honorary status” with the seven. The pyramids were the only remaining of the original Seven Wonders.

Weber claims that now that the man-made wonders have been chosen he has a new task: choosing the seven natural wonders of the world. He says he will start his new project immediately.