The New 7 Wonders of the World
The 7 wonders pictured next to each other
From Left to Right, Up to Down:
Chichen Itza, Christ the Redeemer, The Great Wall of China,
Macchu Pichu, Petra, Taj Mahal, and the Colosseum
The New7wonders of the world was a global voting campaign which began in the year 2000 in order to name the new 7 wonders. Largely inspired by the 7 wonders of the ancient world, all of which have been lost to time except for the Pyramids in Giza. Hundreds of candidates were listed and the seven were chosen throughout a grueling 7-year process. The 7 wonders range in age from 2700 years old to only 89 years old and are a reflection of semi-modern human history and culture.
If you are wondering about the Great Pyramid of Giza since it is one of the 7 ancient wonders it has been exempted from the list and given "honorary" status.
The Great Wall of China (長城)
First built within the 7th Century B.C.E. during the dissolution of the Zhou dynasty's authority at the beginning of the Spring and Autumn period (春秋時代 a.k.a. Chūn-Qiū Shídài) when China was divided into several warring states. Primarily built to keep out Northern Nomads who constantly posed a threat of raid and pillage. Meanwhile, other sections of the wall were built between the states although they were significantly smaller than the ones in the North. Most of the Great Wall from this time has largely been lost but what has been left points to a largely square structure made up of various sized stones.
Remnants of the Zhou Great Wall near Changqing, Shandong
When Qin Shi Huang united China in 220 B.C.E one of the most notable things he did was connect the Northern Section of the Great Wall to prevent the Xiongnu (who resided in Modern-day Mongolia) from invading the new empire. From what we know, Qin Shi Huang most likely forced and over-exerted the workers on the Great wall leading to many deaths, one of the reasons the empire fell to the Han 20 years later. Like the Zhou wall, much of it doesn't exist anymore and has been largely lost. Later dynasties like the Han (200B.C.E. - 220C.E) and the Sui (581C.E. – 618C.E.) would repair and expand on the wall but it was largely neglected within the Tang and Song Dynasties (618C.E. - 1279C.E.)
Map of the Qin Great Wall
When the Mongols invaded China in the 13th century the wall was largely in disrepair, and due to that, they were able to steamroll straight into China and establish the Yuan dynasty. When the Ming drove the Mongols out in the 1360s they still posed an ever-present threat on the Northern Border so the Ming began to reimagine the great wall greater than before. They began to use stone bricks instead of scattered stones or raised earth, and over 25,000 watchtowers were constructed leading to over 13,000 miles (21,000 km) built during the entire history of China. Although 4,000 miles of which are still standing today
A picture of the modern Great Wall
The great wall is a true testament to human engineering and an absolutely stunning sight.
There is one large controversy with the Great Wall and that is whether or not it is visible from space. According to astronauts who have been up to space it is largely unvisible likely due to the fact that it is too thin to be notably seen from space.
Petra (Raqmu), Jordan
Tombs in the Southern part of the city
The city of Petra (The “Rose City” Arabic:ٱلْبَتْرَاء Ancient Greek: Πέτρα) is famous for its buildings carved into the stone rock cliffs in southern Jordan. It is also famous for its ancient water conduits which were able to supply the city with its needed water. The city has also been mentioned in the Jewish Antiquities and the Muslim Quran.
There has been evidence of people living near the city in the Neolithic age. The city was really founded when the Nabataeans (A nomadic tribe in the Arabian desert) settled down within the valley. Little is known about the Nabataeans except that they gained massive amounts of wealth from trade.
They also maintained strict control of the water in that region and due to the fact that they were in the center of the desert, they remained in power for several centuries.
One of the structures in Petra
Source: National Geographic
The Romans arrived in Petra in the year 63 B.C.E. and brought a new age of prosperity to the city. They built a theater that could house around 6 thousand people at a time along with a treasury and a monastery with several notable Hellenistic features. The sophisticated water system that was built allowed 30,000 people to live in the city at the time (which was a lot back then especially for the desert). The canals which transported the water also only dipped 12 feet every mile (3.6 meters every 1.6 kilometers).
Around the 2nd century trade within the city began to wane but it maintained its importance because it was a religious center. When the Roman Empire fell the Byzantines maintained control of the city but in the year 363 C.E. a big earthquake crippled the city and although the Byzantines maintained control of it and built a church in the city it would eventually be abandoned once.
Once the city was taken by the Mamluks it remained largely of importance until the Crusaders built a fort in the city and later abandoned it. After this event, the city was abandoned.
A picture of Petra in the late 1800s
The city wouldn't be recorded again till 1812 when it was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. A flood of paintings emerged from the city but this drew unnecessary attention to the region and in the 1900's it was raided many times for its valuables.
Petra in Jordan gives us insight on Roman and Byzantine engineering along with the remnants of an ancient society of Nabataeans that we wouldn't have been able to find otherwise.
The Roman Colosseum (Amphitheatrum Flavium)
The Colosseum in 2007
The Colosseum is an elliptical structure made of concrete and sand bricks. It is modeled after two Roman theaters conjoined together, 189 meters long, 156 meters wide, and 48 meters tall. It is estimated that it had the capacity to hold between 50,000 and 87,000 people (which is the size of a modern-day stadium). It was primarily used for gladiatorial events where people fought other gladiators and exotic animals. Contrary to popular belief, most people didn't actually die during these gladiator events as gladiators were more like trained professionals not just cattle for slaughter.
It began construction in the Flavium dynasty (after Emperor Nero). It resides on mostly flat land in what used to be densely habituated residential areas. After the Great Fire of Rome, enough land was cleared for emperor Nero to use it as his palace. When he died the palace was mostly demolished and the grounds were used to construct the theater and were subsequently funded by recent spoils from a war in Isreal.
In the year 217 C.E., the Colosseum was damaged by a fire and destroyed the wooden upper levels. It was repaired around the year 240 C.E. and Gladiatorial fights would go on until the Western Roman Empire fell in 476 C.E.
Rome, The Colosseum by Turner 1820
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Colosseum went into disrepair. In the 6th century, a chapel was built in the center and later it was converted into a cemetery. In the 1100's the seating was turned into housing, not long afterward it was fortified and turned into a castle. An Earthquake hit the region in 1349 and caused a partial collapse of the Colosseum. The building continued to be looted of its stone and bronze throughout the Middle Ages.
The Church later took control of the structure altering its purpose significantly from bullfights to a sacred site where Christians were supposedly massacred (there is no evidence for this). Through the 1800s and 1900s, several restoration projects began to rid of the overgrown vegetation and excavate the building.
Nowadays, it has become a major tourist attraction and a symbol against Capital Punishment as several protests have taken place near the stadium in the early 2000s. It has also been the backdrop for several major concerts.
A picture of El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan)
Chichen Itza is a Mesoamerican city built primarily between 600-1100 C.E. during the Classic and Post-classic eras of the Mayan Civilization. It was one of the largest Mayan cities covering around 5 square kilometers of land (1.9 square miles) and at its height hosted up to 50,000 people.
The city was established in the modern-day Yucatan Peninsula and reveals the Mayan's deep understanding of Astronomy. El Castillo (one of the main temples) has a step for each day of the year (365) and each of the sides has 91 steps and one extra step for the top. It is positioned just right so that on the equinoxes, the shape of a serpent can be seen in the form of a shadow. One of the more notable structures was they ball court in which players tried to hit a 12-pound (5.4 kg) rubber ball into the hoops in which the losers would be sacrificed. Even though the ball game has been played for over 2000 years the Chichen Itza ball court is the largest one that has been found within Meso-America.
Chichen Itza primarily served as a religious, ceremonial, and trade hub for the Mayans but after centuries of prosperity, the city began to wane. The city began its declines around the 1100s and while it is largely unknown why this happened it's theorized that it might be due to a combination of wars, famine, diseases, and natural disasters. Eventually, the city was abandoned in the 1400s right before the Spanish conquests.
A photo of the decaying Chichen Itza circa 1600
When the Spanish King approved the conquests of the Yucatan in 1526, Conquistador Francisco de Montejo sent his son out to take the Northern part of the peninsula while he would go west. Francisco Montejo The Younger (his son) had the end goal of making their way to Chichen Itza and making it their new capital, he managed to get to Chichen Itza in the year 1532 but was kicked out in the year of 1534. Eventually, he came back and reconquer it with the help of other natives, and in 1588 Chichen Itza was made a cattle farm.
The city remained largely irrelevant until explorers in the late 1800s rediscovered it and wrote several books about their findings. In the 1900s people began excavating the monument and removing all of the foliage. Nowadays, the structures are currently undergoing the process of restoration efforts.
Machu Picchu in 2009
Compared to the cities of Petra and Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu is relatively small only having the capacity for around 5 thousand people (at its greatest extent) but it's still important nonetheless. Built around the 1450s-1460s in what is now Southern Peru, Macchu Picchu was built as a royal estate for the Incan Empire. Historians estimate it had limited use though as it was abandoned only 80 years after it was founded due to the fact that the Spanish Conquistadors had arrived in the Incan empire.
Even though it had the capacity for 5000 it most likely housed much fewer people than that most of which were support staff for the emperor. Archaeological evidence indicates that people here ate a variety of foods from all parts of the empire such as maize or corn. Other evidence indicates that the people here had less arthritis compared to the common Incan who worked on agriculture and served in the military. Most of the food they farmed was on the terraces which were specially built to retain good soil composition and prevent landslides but the terraces were most likely not able to sustain a population of 750+ and therefore food probably came from elsewhere.
A panoramic of Macchu Picchu circa 1913
Even though it was only within a 50 mile (80 km) distance from the capital Cuzco it was so remote that the Spanish never found the city and therefore, never got the opportunity to raid and plunder the city. For most of the Spanish colonial period, the mountain remained largely undisturbed and was only really rediscovered in the late 1800s. At this time another wave of exploration and restoration began just like at Chichen Itza and Petra, and when the 20th century came a wave of excavators flooded the city.
Due to the fact that it remained untouched for most of its existence, researchers were able to find out a lot more about the way of life in the city and it remained largely intact from its origin compared to some of the other structures on this list.
A picture of the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is an ornate marble tomb located in the province of Uttar Pradesh near the city of Agra. The building is the perfect example of Mughal architecture blending both Indian and Arabic styles. The mausoleum itself is around 57 x 57 meters (187 feet) and about 67 meters tall (220 feet) meanwhile the outlying minarets (towers that Muslims traditionally use to pray) are around 43 meters (141 feet). The tomb has several Persian poems inscribed on the marble along with several verses from the Quaran and various plants.
Built over a 20 year period beginning in 1632, the Taj Mahal was commissioned by Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. Mahal died in the year 1631 after attempting to give birth to their 14th child. Over 20,000 workers were brought in from the Mughal, Safavid, and Ottoman empires along with over a thousand elephants to complete the task. The main architect was most likely Ustad Ahmad Lahouri who would also design the Red Fort in Delhi. Shah Jahan was soon deposed by his son Aurangzeb and spent the rest of his life in Agra fort. When Shah Jahan died in 1666 he was laid to rest beside his wife in the basement of the tomb.
The sarcophagi of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal
Due to the decline of the Mughal Empire after his son's death, Shah Jahan's tomb was neglected for around 2 centuries and entered disrepair. This all changed when in the 19th century Lord Cuzon of the British Empire in an effort to preserve Indian culture and art ordered a major restoration of the tomb which was completed in the year 1908. In addition to that, a European style garden was commissioned and still remains to this day.
The tomb has faced several threats over the years including when in World War 2 and when the Indian-Pakistani wars occurred scaffolding was erected to mislead bombers to prevent major damage to the structure. More recently, however, the building has faced threats from pollution and the Indian government created a pollution-free zone around the building limiting cars and factories.
Christ the Redeemer
A picture of Christ the Redeemer from the front
The statue is a depiction of Jesus Christ overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro. Standing at only 30 meters tall (100 feet) the statue ranks 131st compared to every other statue. The statue itself is mostly a mixture of concrete, glass, and soapstone weighing in at around 635 metric tonnes (700 imperial tons).
Initially, the statue was proposed in the 1850s to honor Princess Isabel the Redeemer of Portugal but as Brazil had recently gained its independence this proposal was ultimately rejected. A second proposal was made in 1920 by the Catholics in Rio themselves, and in 1922 construction began on the statue. Completed in 1931 costing about $3.6 million USD today.
Restorations and additions to the statue occurred in the years of 1990, 2003, and 2010 and added walkways and escalators to ease the access to the statue. In 2006 the church below the statue was consecrated by the Catholic church by Archbishop Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid.
Each of the 7 New wonders of the world provides an insight into civilizations past and present, they serve as an ever-present reminder of how peoples long gone used to live. Unlike the ancient 7 wonders, you can see all of these monuments today and they're a defining feature of how our current civilizations have come to be. Another difference from the ancient monuments is that they are spread all over the world instead of being clustered within the Mediterranean region. The fact that these monuments have survived the toll of time is a true measure of how important they are to our human identity.
Didn't make the cut
14 other monuments also made the finalist list but were unfortunately cut, so be sure to check out each one on the 7 wonders official website liked below.
Whew, that one was a doozy, I really hope you enjoyed the article as I poured several hours of research and writing into this post. Catch any mistakes? Fell free to correct me if you spot anything misleading or untrue and I'll be sure to fix it. Thanks!