Christ the Redeemer. The Great Wall of China. The Taj Mahal. The Colosseum. Petra. Chichén Itzá. Machu Picchu. The seven wonders of the world. These sites and monuments are known across the world and were chosen in 2007 through an online contest held by Swiss company, the New 7 Wonders Foundation.
What are the seven wonders of the world?
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Built between 1926 – 1931
Commissioned by the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro
Located in Brazil, Christ the Redeemer is one of the most recently constructed wonders. The Catholic Church commissioned the 125 feet tall statue in the early 20th century and it is today considered the largest Art Deco sculpture in the world. Weighing 1,145 tons, the statue was made with reinforced concrete in order to support its vast arm span.
Atop the summit of Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, the statue of Jesus Christ is vulnerable to weather and damage from lightning. Over the years, the statue has undergone periodic repairs and renovations, most notably in 1980 when it had a thorough clean in preparation for the visit of Pope John Paul II. But one of the greatest restoration challenges is matching the colour of the statues six million stone tiles.
Great Wall of China, China
Built between 220 BC – AD 1644
Built by several emperors and dynasties
Built over nearly 1,800 years, the Great Wall of China is now a Chinese national symbol. The Great Wall consists of many walls that overlap at an estimated length of 20,000 kilometres. The most extensive and best-preserved version of the wall dates from the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) and runs for some 8,850 kilometres east to west.
The design of the Great Wall of China, which is constructed across mountain passes and ridges, makes strategic use of the natural terrain. Sadly, lengthy sections of the wall are now in ruins or have disappeared completely, but it is still one of the world’s most remarkable structures. Which is why it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
Taj Mahal, India
Built between 1632 – 1648
Commissioned by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan
The magnificent Taj Mahal is located in Agra, northern India. Between 1632 and 1648, 20,000 workers built the World Heritage site which is widely considered the most beautiful building in the world. A perfect exercise in symmetry, the four identical faces of the Taj feature impressive vaulted arches embellished with pietra dura scrollwork and quotations from the Quran in a style of calligraphy using inlaid jasper.
Described as ‘the embodiment of all things pure,’ the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631.
Built between AD 72 – 82
Commissioned by Flavian emperors during the first century of the Roman Empire
An example of the Roman Empire’s architectural innovation, the Colosseum is an amphitheatre with arcades and half columns. Located in Rome, the Colosseum was initially used for gladiator and hunting shows and public executions. But after the fall of the Roman Empire, it was used temporarily as a housing complex.
Left on Italy’s skyline today is just one-third of the original structure following mining of the Colosseum’s materials and earthquake damage. But in 2016, restoration of the building’s façade was completed after three years of work.
Built between 400 BC and AD 106
Built by the Nabatean Kingdom
The ancient city of Petra, located in Jordan, was built by the Nabateans, an Arab tribe who made it the capital of their kingdom. The tribe lived in the Wadi Musa valley for more than 400 years in a spot strategically located along early silk and spice trade routes.
The Hellenistic facades seen across Petra are carved directly into the sandstone canyons that are veined with shades of red, purple, and pale yellow. For this reason, Petra was called “a rose-red city half as old as Time,” by 19th-century English biblical scholar, John William Burgon.
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Built between 5th – 13th century
Built by the Maya-Toltec civilisation
Chichén Itzá is a ruined ancient Maya city located in Mexico. The city eventually became part of the Maya-Toltec civilisation and flourished until around AD 1200 before it was abandoned. Over time, occupiers created buildings in an architectural style known as Puuc, that still stand today. Many of the ruins feature religious temples that epitomise the Maya innovation in astronomy and science.
One building to note is the Temple of Kukulkán, which has 365 steps, one for each day in the Haab solar calendar. The temple is crowned by a carving of the feathered serpent deity, Kukulkán.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Built in the mid-15th century
Built by the Incas
Situated in the northwest of Cuzco, Peru, Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Incan settlement. One of the few that remain intact, the settlement is on the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains and was likely built as a royal retreat for the Incan emperor.
Though the reason is unclear, Machu Picchu was abandoned after the mid-16th century today lies fascinating architecture that was integrating into the natural terrain, much like the Great Wall of China. It is possible to reach the area by hiking up the Incan trail through the Andes or by train.