The Great Wall of China was built to link existing fortifications into a united defense system and better keep invading Mongol tribes out of China.
It is the largest man-made monument ever to have been built and it is disputed that it is the only one visible from space. Many thousands of people must have given their lives to build this colossal construction.
At the Great Wall of China in Badaling, outside of Beijing, the New7Wonders World Tour experienced a true Chinese cultural extravaganza. Some 1,000 folk artists – brightly dressed Chinese lion dancers and Yangko dancers, drummers and traditional musicians – presented a fascinating hour-long program in the courtyard at Badaling and along the Duokou and Nv’er sections of the Great Wall.
The official ceremony preceded the folk perfomances, under a cloudless blue sky and with bright sunshine.
After speeches by Bernard Weber, Mr. Dong Yaohui, Standing Vice-Chairman of the China Great Wall Society and Mr. Wang Weidong, Deputy Director of the Beijing Badaling Special Zone Administrative Center, Mr. Wang then received the official certificate of candidacy from Mr. Weber.
The many journalists and perfomers mixed with hundreds of tourists visiting the wall throughout the morning, all fascinated by the cultural show along the historic fortification.
The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces.
Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger, stronger, and unified are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall.
Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.
Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration.
Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.
The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia.
A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi).
This immense mausoleum was built on the orders of Shah Jahan, the fifth Muslim Mogul emperor, to honor the memory of his beloved late wife.
Built out of white marble and standing in formally laid-out walled gardens, the Taj Mahal is regarded as the most perfect 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.
The final stop for the World Tour in 2006 and the close of the Asian segment was a lively, worthy tribute to the Taj Mahal, a symbol for love and passion.
This symbolism has a particular relevance now, as we approach the end of the year and a period of togetherness and festivities in many parts of the world – in his brief comments in front of the Taj Mahal, Bernard Weber noted that the qualities of love and passion are two much needed in our world today.
Love brings us together as a community, while passion gives our lives meaning. The Taj Mahal, breathtakingly beautiful in the afternoon sun, stands majestically as a monument to human emotions.
The certificate of candidacy was handed to Mr. D. K. Burman, who accepted it on behalf of Mr. Kokab Hameed, Uttar Pradesh’s Minister of Tourism.
The ceremony at the Taj Mahal featured lovely Indian dancers and was attended by many journalists as well as Indian fans of New7Wonders, some of whom had travelled great distances to be a part of this special celebration.
Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles.
In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the white domed marble mausoleum is the most familiar component of the Taj Mahal, it is actually an integrated complex of structures.
The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.
The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision, including Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
The sound of several Inca pututus, instruments made from shell or animal horn, echoed through the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu and the surrounding Peruvian Andes as the New7Wonders team made the 19th of 21 stops on the World Tour.
Local children, dressed in colorful traditional costumes, were on hand as Mercedes Araoz, Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, and Machu Picchu Pueblo Mayor Edgar Miranda accepted the official certificate of candidacy from New7Wonders Founder and President Bernard Weber.
In return, Bernard received an ornate Inca rod and the keys to the city of Machu PIcchu – an incredible honor.
The New7Wonders team marveled at the site’s impressive mix of well-preserved houses, courtyards and terraces sprawled majestically on the side of the incredibly steep mountain.
The building techniques of the Incas, combined with their knowledge of astronomy, agriculture and engineering, are a tribute to the sophistication of the society.
Machu Picchu (Spanish pronunciation, Quechua: Machu Picchu, “Old Peak”) is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. Machu Picchu is located in the Cusco Region of Peru, South America.
It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472).
Often referred to as the “City of the Incas”, it is perhaps the most familiar icon of Inca civilization.
The Incas started building the “estate” around 1400, but abandoned it as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.
Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored. The restoration work continues to this day.
Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows.
These are located in what is known by archaeologists as the Sacred District of Machu Picchu. In September 2007, Peru and Yale University almost reached an agreement regarding the return of artifacts which Yale has held since Hiram Bingham removed them from Machu Picchu in the early 20th century. In November 2010, a Yale University representative agreed to return the artifacts to a Peruvian university.
This great amphitheater in the centre of Rome was built to give favors to successful legionnaires and to celebrate the glory of the Roman Empire.
Its design concept still stands to this very day, and virtually every modern sports stadium some 2,000 years later still bears the irresistible imprint of the Colosseum’s original design.
Today, through films and history books, we are even more aware of the cruel fights and games that took place in this arena, all for the joy of the spectators.
The New7Wonders airship stopped rush-hour traffic in Rome as it soared over the Colosseum with blue skies as a backdrop. The majestic royal-blue aircraft stood out vividly, proudly bearing the New7Wonders logo, as well as the World Tour and our World Tour sponsors’ logos.
In the afternoon, Bernard Weber handed the official candidacy certificate to Dottoressa Irene Iacopi, Director of the Colosseum, on the terrace outside her splendid offices right in the middle of the Roman Forum and with a view of the Colosseum.
The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire, built of concrete and stone. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.
Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started in 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian’s reign (81–96). The name “Amphitheatrum Flavium” derives from both Vespasian’s and Titus’s family name.
Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.
The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.
It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.
On the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of water technology, the Nabataeans provided their city with great tunnel constructions and water chambers.
A theater, 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 on the El-Deir Monastery, are impressive examples of Middle Eastern culture.
To celebrate the rose-red city of Petra’s candidacy, the magnificent buildings carved into the cliffs came alive today as they were 2,000 years ago. A bustling Nabatean marketplace in front of the famous treasury portal was the setting for the handover ceremony.
Accompanied by the echo of a flute through the deep, narrow Siq canyon, a camel procession and a galloping Arabian steed announced the arrival of Jordan’s beloved Queen Rania al-Abdullah. Riding on a camel, Bernard Weber approached Her Majesty in the center of the square, dismounted and presented her with the certificate.
In the presence of Jordan’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Mr. Osama Dabbas, and the Managing Director of the Jordan Tourism Board, Mr. Mazen Homoud, Queen Rania thanked Bernard Weber and noted that, “We Jordanians are proud to be the custodians of the stunning heritage of the Nabatean people.”
She continued: “Indeed, we feel that many of our modern Jordanian national characteristics are notably similar to those of the ancient Nabateans.
Like them, we have carved out a special and unique role as a bridge between diverse regions and cultures.
And like them, we are a peaceful culture committed to international commerce and dialogue. The magical rose-red city of Petra is like nothing else on earth. It is a remarkable testimony to the human spirit, etched for all time in sandstone and shale.”
After the handover, the crowd, which included close to a hundred international journalists, proceeded down to the ancient amphitheater to watch an impressive Roman legion military demonstration and several thrilling rounds of gladiator battles.
In the morning, before the Nabatean re-enactment, the New7Wonders hot-air balloon rose in the square in front of the treasury.
The breathtaking sight of the blue balloon hovering close to the huge pink pillars awed everyone present – it was surely the first time ever that a hot-air balloon was flown in the ancient Nabatean city.
7 Wonders of the World Pictures, The Statue of Christ Redeemer, Brazil, 7 Wonders of the World Names
This statue of Jesus stands some 38 meters tall, atop the Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro.
Designed by Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and created by French sculptor Paul Landowski, it is one of the world’s best-known monuments.
The statue took five years to construct and was inaugurated on October 12, 1931. It has become a symbol of the city and of the warmth of the Brazilian people, who receive visitors with open arms.
Rio de Janeiro welcomed the New7Wonders team with arms as open as those of the Christ Redeemer statue high on the Corcovado mountain above the city. After everyone took the historic Corcovado train up the steep hill through jungle-like vegetation, the ceremony began with a military band playing Brazil’s national anthem, followed by a chorus singing one of the most famous and best-loved local songs about the city.
True Brazilian energy and passion came through as the audience joined in for both songs. Several lively speeches followed, led by Savio Neves, the Director of the Corcovado Train and hence of the entire monument site, who called for Brazilians of all ages to vote for the Christ Redeemer.
Paulo Senise, the Executive Director of the Rio Convention and Visitors Bureau, underlined how much welcoming foreigners was a part of the Brazilian mentality – whether tourists or, historically, people from many different cultures.
Officials from the Brazilian government, the Rio de Janeiro Chamber of Commerce and the National Parks institution spoke and appealed to all the various segments of the Brazilian population to support their greatest national monument.
The official certificate of candidacy was handed to Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid in front of the statue framed by brilliant blue skies spotted with few clouds. Cardinal Scheid noted that the statue symbolized the joyous, embracing qualities of the “Cariocas” or citizens of Rio, and indeed of all Brazilians.
After the handover, a group of samba dancers from the Grande Rio samba school danced to the contagious beat of their band.
Dressed in their Carnaval finest with high feathered headdresses and glitter, the dancers celebrated the passion of the Brazilian people. The many journalists and tourists who were there could not help but move with the music – just like the New7Wonders team.