TraveLuxe

The 7 New Wonders

In 2001, it was decided that a new list of World Wonders should be chosen. After all, only one of the originals remains standing today. The initiative was understaken by the New7Wonders Foundation based in Zurich, Switzerland, and after much hubbub among voters and travelers worldwide, the 7 New Wonders were decided on in 2007. They are (in no particular order):

• The Taj Mahal
• Chichen Itza
• Christ the Redeemer (statue)
• Colosseum
• Great Wall of China
• Machu Picchu
• Petra

The Pyramids of Giza, being the only remaining ancient wonder, was not voted in again, but was given an honorary spot on the list.

So we know they’re popular – at least among the voters – but what are they really? Why should we visit? Below is a bit of information about each, to help travelers decide which of these wonders may be next on their travel wish list.

Taj Mahal: This marble mausoleum located in Agra, India was built by the Mughal emporer Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife. It is considered one of the most astounding pieces of Muslim art in the world, and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The tomb is the central feature of the structure, and the site is most recognizable by its white marble dome.

Chichen Itza: Chichen Itza is a Mayan city located in the eastern portion of the Yucaton in Mexico. Built possibly around 600 AD, it was one of the largest Mayan cities, and is considered to have been a major economical power, during its highest points. Within the city, visitors can see multiple architectural styles, representing its diverse population.

Christ the Redeemer: Located on Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park Overlooking Rio de Janeiro, this statue stands 130 feet tall and is the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world. Visitors to the statue take a short train ride through the park to the top of the mountain – the view from the peak alone is worth the trip up.

The Great Wall of China: The wall stretches approximately 5,500 miles from east to west along the historical northern borders of China. Originally, the wall was built, at least in part, for protection of the Emperor and those within its borders from military invaders. The “wall” consists of actual walls, trenches, and natural barriers such as hills and rivers, and has been rebuilt several times. Today, it is most frequently visited from Beijing, where travelers can walk along portions of the wall.

Colosseum (Coliseum): In it’s prime, the Colosseum could seat 50,000 spectators, and was used for gladiator fights and other public spectacles. Today, as in its hay day, it’s considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering in existence. While damaged, much of the Colosseum still stands and visitors can tour it, transporting themselves back to the times of the ancient emperors.

Petra: Ancient cities seem to be a theme with this list of wonders, despite the designation of “new”. This Jordanian city dates back as far as 312 BC and was the capital of the Nabataeans. It’s particularly famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits that, along with dams and cisterns, were used to help control flooding. Among Petra’s most notable ruins are Aaron’s Tomb – said to be the burial place of Moses’ brother, Al Khazneh (commonly known as the Treasury), and the amphitheater.

Machu Picchu: This 15th century Incan city lies in the mountains overlooking the Urubamba Valley of Peru. It was abandoned seemingly overnight, and sat undiscovered and dormant for 500 years, until Hiram Bingham came upon it in 1911. It’s thought to have been built for the emperor Pacachuti, and is often referred to as “The City of the Incas”. Visitors to Machu Picchu can wander through the houses of the emperor and the nobility, the Temple of the Sun, the working and living quarters of the lay people, envisioning the city, and the daily life of its residents, as it occurred in the 1400’s.

WONDERful World

Travel makes the vast world much smaller. It allows us to reach destinations that people only dreamed of seeing even as recent 50 years ago. Ancient sites transport us back hundreds or thousands of years, we hike through thick jungles and rainforest, canoe down the amazon, wander through the streets of countries where no one else speaks our language, swim deep in the ocean among endangered and rare species.

Throughout the years, various people and organizations have tried to determine the “best of the best”, so to speak. Those sites that if you saw nothing else, you must sea. We originally started with the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

• Great Pyramid of Giza
• Hanging Gardens of Babylon
• Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
• Statue of Zeus at Olympia
• Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
• Lighthouse of Alexandria
• Colossus of Rhodes (there’s been some debate on this one, as no historical depiction or description of it has been found, yet it’s mentioned frequently in literature from the time. The location is also debated).

In 2007, with only one of the original Wonders still standing (the Pyramid of Giza), a new list was created – the 7 New Wonders of the World. It was a multi-step process, which allowed the public to vote on nominees, and those with the highest number of votes won, though there wasn’t a measure to prevent multiple votes, so the validity of the list as “the best of the best” has been disputed, particularly from those countries with nominees that were not chosen. Still, there’s no denying that the new list of wonders contains some of the world’s most spectacular sites, so regardless of the procedure used to create it, it’s worth paying attention to.

Other lists of Wonders have been created over the years, which include the 7 Natural Wonders, the 7 Underwater Wonders, and doubtless other, less celebrated lists. It appears that there will soon be a “New7Wonders Cities”, as well. To kick off the new year, this issue of TraveLuxe will focus on several of these wonders, to highlight some of our world’s most treasured sights, and perhaps serve as some inspiration for future travels.