Week of September 10, 2023

In 2000, over 2 millennia since the first list was compiled, a Swiss foundation collected 100 million votes for the New Seven Wonders of the World. The results were:


The Colosseum, built about 70 AD, was a marvel of size, engineering, and gruesome spectacle. Besides the gladiator battles and human-animal combat, the Colosseum was sometimes flooded for mock naval battles, with an estimated 1/2 million people meeting their death there. After some centuries of earthquakes and neglect, the building was restored in recent times and now draws about 7 million tourists annually.


Chichén Itzá, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is a city first started by the Mayans in the 5th century AD. Among the remarkable temples is El Castillo, a stepped pyramid where natural shadows combine with carved stone snake heads to give the appearance of serpents slithering down one side on the two annual equinoxes.


Petra, in modern Jordan, is also called the “Rose Red City” for the color of the rock that the many elaborate buildings are carved out of. Though the surrounding area has been used by humans for at least 10,000 years, this capital of the ancient Nabatean Arabs has been around since about the 3rd century BC, and thrived until an earthquake and a later change in trade routes left it all but abandoned until a more recent “rediscovery” about 200 years ago.


The Christ the Redeemer statue, rising 125 above the peak of Mt. Corcovado in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, was originally inspired by fears of “an advancing tide of godlessness.” Built in the 1920s during the heyday of Art Deco architecture, it is the largest statute of that style in the world, is covered by over six million tiles, and is hit by (and damaged by) lightning surprisingly often.


The Great Wall of China, easily one of the largest-scale construction projects undertaken by humans, was built along the country’s northern border to protect against invaders. The Great Wall is actually a series of walls and fortifications, many parallel to each other and in varying states of maintenance, making a definitive length measurement tricky. A conservative estimate might be 5,500 miles for the best-preserved stretch up to 13,170 total miles, with construction beginning in the 7th century BC and with repairs going on as late at the 11th century AD before modern renovations.


The Taj Mahal is an enormous and elaborate marble masoleum built by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, who died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child. The shah was later overthrown by one of his sons and imprisoned nearby. The Taj Mahal is easily the best recognized building in India and attracts about 3 millions people a year.