The world today is filled with many wonderful from natural formations that leave you speechless to magnificent feats of human ingenuity. People have been exploring and wondering over the many awe-inspiring sites in the world for centuries. In fact, it was the ancient Greeks who began the tradition of identifying the Seven Wonders of the World. That is, those sites which are so wondrous and inspiring that one should visit them if he or she wants to have a truly profound experience. Of course, for the ancient Greeks the “world” consisted entirely of the Mediterranean region. For that reason, the list has been modified over time to include wonders from all over the world.
The Original Seven Wonders of the World
The list created by the ancient Greeks included many ancient wonders that are no longer here today. There were many amazing architectural constructions and artistic creations whose splendor we can only imagine today. The list included:
- The Colossus of Rhodes: a 100 foot tall statue of Helios (a Greek Titan).
- The Lighthouse of Alexandria: a 400 foot tall lighthouse that once guided the ships coming into the largest port in Egypt.
- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: a magnificent and magical botanical garden
- The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
- The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
- The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
- The Great Pyramids of Giza
Of those original seven, only one (the Great Pyramids of Giza) still exists today. Therefore, it became necessary to create an updated list of wonders, reflecting the monuments and sites that still remain. The lists have changed frequently over the years and even become more specific. Today, we have lists spanning the wonders to be found in all of existence—from the seven wonders of the natural world to the seven wonders of the industrial world. There is even a list of the seven wonders of the solar system!
New 7 Wonders of the World
In 2000, the New7Wonders Foundation began a millennium project to determine what the Seven Wonders of the World should be today. The projected lasted seven years and collected votes from more than 100 million people who could vote by phone or online. This has led it to become the largest popular poll on record, making it a wonder all its own in that regard.
The list of wonders that came out of this seven year project is the following:
- The Great Wall of China
- The Colosseum
- Chichen Itza
- Machu Picchu
- Christ the Redeemer
- The Great Pyramids of Giza
You have probably noticed that the current Seven Wonders of the World actually includes eight sites. This is because, after some controversy, it was decided that the Great Pyramids of Giza, by virtue of being the only remaining site from the original list, deserved to be placed on the list even if it was not popularly elected during the polling process. Therefore, it has been given the honorary title and remains on the list. This means the Seven Wonders of the World should technically be called the Eight Wonders of the World.
The Great Wall of China
More than 2,000 years ago, many of the northern Chinese states began building large defensive walls intended to keep out their Mongolian rivals to the north. A few hundred years afterward, the threat of the encroaching Mongols was as strong as ever. The Chinese Emperor at the time, Qin Shi Huang, instructed his people to join the walls that already existed into one large defense.The full construction of the wall lasted from around 500 BC through to the 17th century.
Once a major center of trade along the famous Silk Road, Petra is now a ghost city. The wonder of this 2,000 year old city is it not only found in the stunning architecture and detail (which shows influences from the many diverse cultures which converged here in order to trade) but also the fact that it was carved right into the red stone hillsides where it is located.
The Coliseum is a magnificent ruin in the beautiful city of Rome. The nearly 2,000 year old stadium once held as much as 50,000 spectators who would come to watch brutal and bloody Gladiator competitions. The gladiators would fight each other or, in exceptional cases, wild animals such as lions, bears, tigers, and even elephants.
Before the Europeans discovered the new world, great empires had reigned. In the Yucatan peninsula, those included first the Maya, then the Toltec, then the Itza. Between about 800 and 1200 AD, those three constructed the imposing and even haunting city of Chichen Itza. Today, it is an abandoned “ghost town” consisting of many temples, wide stretches of abandoned streets and a magnificent stepped pyramid.
Machu Picchu is a breath-taking mountaintop fortress built by the remarkably talented Incan people in the 15th century (during the height of their empire). It is located almost 8,000 feet above sea level at the peaks of the Andes. The marvelously unique architectural features of this site are too many to count.
The Taj Mahal is as much a monument to human ingenuity as it is to love. Although it is often thought of as a palace, it was actually built in 1631 by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife, MumtazMahal who had died unexpectedly. It took 22 years to build and untold amounts of labor and raw materials.
Christ the Redeemer
Of all the sites on the list, this one is, by far, the youngest. Having been built in the early 20th century, the full statue weighs an impressive 1.4 million pounds. It is located on top of the Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From the site, you discover a spectacular view of the city as well as its beautiful coastline.
What each of the sites on this list show are the intersections of art and craft. The two complement each other, creating beautiful structures that are both stunning and functional. However, there are many important differences between art and craft that are important to know in order to better see how they blend with each other in these seven (or eight) wonders.
As you visit the different sites around the world and compare these often centuries old places with the sort of art and architecture we have today, it becomes very apparent that there are many profound influences of technology on modern art that must be better understood.