The original wonders of the world were chosen by a few individuals around 2,000 years ago, however in 2007, a massive, global survey was done and tens of millions of people participated in what they thought should be the new Seven Wonders of the World. The age of the monuments does not matter, however they had to be man-made.
I will go through them in the order of my visits, which happened over the past 30 years, starting with the Coliseum in Rome. This amazing structure, built of concrete and sand, is the largest amphitheatre ever built. Construction began in 72 BCE, and was completed 7 years later. It held between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, and was used for contests by gladiators and public spectacles.
Although partially ruined because of damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Coliseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and has links to the Roman Catholic Church. Each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlight “Way of the Cross” procession, that starts in the area around the Coliseum.
Continuing our adventure, our next stop is China and its great wall. Initially this structure was built as a series of sections across the northern borders of ancient China as protection. The wall stretches 8,000 km, and it would take you 18 months to walk its length.
Our journey takes us to North America, and the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, in Mexico’s Yucatan jungle. This massive step-pyramid dominates the center of the Chichen Itza archaeological site and was built by the Maya civilization sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries CE.
I managed to climb the 91 stairs to the top and back down again, but found it extremely difficult, as the steps are quite high. Shortly after my visit, a woman fell to her death, and the climbing of the steps was closed to tourism.
The next Wonder of the World we are going to visit lies deep in the Andes Mountains in Peru, the fifteenth century Inca Village of Machu Picchu.
Built as an estate for the Inca Emperor, it was abandoned a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not brought to international attention, until American historian Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911.
There is a great deal of controversy over Bingham's discovery and excavation of the site. He has always claimed there were no treasures found at the site, but several years ago, Yale University, Bingham’s alma mater, confessed to possessing many of the valuables Bingham had discovered.
Staying in South America, the next Wonder I visited was the gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer, at Corcovado, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.
Seeing this marvel from a distance does not give you the appreciation of its sheer magnitude, and a trip up the mountain is a must. What makes it so special is its location at the peak of the 700-metre Corcovado mountain, overlooking the city of Rio. A symbol of Christianity across the world, the statue has also become a cultural icon of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.
Our adventure to explore the new Seven Wonders of the World continues. Our next destination is the centre of India, and the City of Agra, where one of the most spectacular monuments in existence is located. I'm talking of course, about the Taj Mahal.
The Taj was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is believed to have cost $876 million, using today’s currency. The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans, and took 25 years to complete.
Just prior to the lockdown, I had the pleasure of visiting Jordan and the valley of Petra, a truly amazing place. For me, it was extra special, as it was the last of the Seven Wonders of the World on my bucket list.
Petra lies in a basin, which runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. It is surrounded by mountains and cliffs, which has given Petra its vantage point during Nabeteans times (300 BCE), and has kept it hidden for centuries in later years.
The valley of Petra is seven km long and I walked a total of 30000 steps or 21 km. The 30-degree heat meant drinking lots of water, but the experience was amazing.
The Seven Wonders of the World are quite amazing, and a visit to each one is an experience I will never forget.
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