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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The New 7 Wonders

The Acropolis of Athens

Built atop what is known as the “Sacred Rock” of Athens, the Acropolis was to radiate power and protection for its citizens. The temples of the Acropolis have become the some of most famous architectural landmarks of ancient and modern history. Today, the Parthenon in particular is an international symbol of Greek civilization. A graphic illustration of the temple also appears in the UNESCO logo, representing culture and education.

Alhambra, Spain

Mohammed 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 this which we now know as the Alhambra. The structure, which covers an area of 13 hectares, is renowned for its stunning frescoes and interior detail. The building is one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in the world and is among Europe’s most-visited tourist attractions

Angkor, Combodia

Angkor is the most important monument of the south-east Asian Khmer Empire and the world’s largest sacred temple. Built during the reign of King Suryavaman, at the beginning of the 12th century, Angkor is noted for its intricate ornamentation and striking beauty. With its water moats, concentric walls and magnificent temple mountain in the center, Angkor Wat symbolizes the Hindu cosmos, with its oceans at the periphery and the Meru mountain at the center of its universe.

Statue Of Easter island, Chile

Discovered on Easter Sunday, 1722 by Dutch explorer Jakob Roggeveen, this collection of 25 meter-high stone sculptures still puzzles historians and archaeologists as to its origins. It is believed that a society of Polynesian origin settled here in the 4th century and established a unique tradition of monumental sculpture. Between the 10th and 16th centuries, they erected the enormous stone figures, known as the Moai, which have long fascinated the entire world and endowed this island with a mythical atmosphere.

Eiffel Tower, 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.

Hagia Sophia,Istanbul, Turkey

The 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 massive dome, which is the prominent architectural feature, has since often been used as a model for the design of Islamic mosques. Indeed, after the fall of Byzantium, the Hagia Sophia was converted into an Ottoman mosque. Today, the monument is a museum serving both Christians and Muslims.

Kiyomizu Temple, Japan

Laid out in 794 A.D., the palaces and temples of Kyoto were the residences of Japan's emperors and shoguns for more than 1,000 years. The Japanese Emperor is enthroned at the Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace). Among other significant works are the Higashi Honganji and Nishi Honganji temple complexes, the Kinkakuji Temple with its 'Golden Pavilion' and the Kiyomizu Temple, the temple of “clear waters.” The Kyoto sites have been destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout history and are today among Asia's greatest cultural heritage sites.

The Kremlin & Red Square, Moscow, Russia

Built as a residence for Ivan I, the Kremlin was the official residence of the Czars until the 1917 Russian Revolution. Today, it still houses the President’s office. In front of the Kremlin is Red Square – an impressive and exuberant plaza which, for many people, is associated with the infamous May Day demonstrations. Rising from the square is St Basil's Cathedral, built in the 1550s to commemorate Ivan the Terrible's capture of the Mongol stronghold of Kazan.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle was built in a time when castles and fortresses were no longer strategically necessary. Instead, it was born of pure fantasy – a beautiful, romantic composition of towers and walls in the perfect setting of mountains and lakes. The combination of various architectural styles and intrinsic craftwork has inspired generations of adults and children alike

Pyramid Of Giza, Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza, the oldest and only Ancient Wonder still standing, are testimony to perfection in art and design, never subsequently achieved. They were built by planners and engineers purely to serve their earthy rulers - who were also their gods. Philosophy did not exist at this time, and creation was not subject to any questioning. The pyramids are the purest of constructions, built for eternity. After careful consideration, the New7Wonders Foundation designated the Pyramids of Giza - the only remaining of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World - as an Honorary New7Wonders Candidate. Therefore, people could not vote for the Pyramids of Giza as part of the New7Wonders campaign. This decision has also taken into account the views of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. The Pyramids are a shared world culture and heritage site and deserve their special status as the only Honorary Candidate of the New7Wonders of the World campaign. The New 7 Wonders of the World were chosen by the people across the globe from the remaining 20 New7Wonders candidates

The Statue of Liberty, New York City, USA

The Statue of Liberty was a gift of the French government to the United States to honor the ideals of freedom and independence. It was a very early gesture of national generosity. This huge statue became a symbol of hope and freedom for many hundreds of millions of people who immigrated to the United States during the 20th century to find a new life of peace and prosperity. It is also the one New7Wonders candidate that most closely resembles one of the Ancient 7 Wonders - The Colossus of Rhodes.

Stonehenge, UK

Construction of Stonehenge took place between ca. 3000 and 1600 B.C. With each stone 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 been speculated that it was either a temple dedicated to the worship of ancient earth deities, an astronomical observatory or a sacred burial site.

Sydney Opera House, Australia

When the Sydney Opera House was finished in 1973, this landmark building - in the true sense of the expression, - put the whole continent of Australia on the world map. This building does not imitate or reflect what we generally imagine an opera house might look like, indeed, it is a completely abstract interpretation. The ability to create abstract art only developed after the invention of photography in the late 19th century, when painters first began to experiment with an abstract, cubist interpretation of reality.

Timbuktu, Mali

In the 12th century, Timbuktu was at the crossroads of the four most important caravan paths supplying the Arab world, which then spanned from the Middle East all the way to Spain. The accumulation of wealth made it one of the wealthiest places on earth at the time. This allowed one of the first universities in the history of humankind to be established– the celebrated Islamic university called the Koranic Sankore, where 20,000 students studied law, medicine, rhetoric, etc. Today, it remains with us as a powerful myth and, in this way, resembles another Ancient Wonder, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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