Sunday, November 20, 2011

Have You Heard of the New 7 Wonders of Nature?

11-11-11 was a significant day for those who have been eagerly awaiting the initial results of the voting for the New 7 Wonders campaign: The New 7 Wonders of Nature. The founder and president of the New7Wonders Foundation Bernard Weber announced the provisional list of winners on this day. At the organization’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Weber, read the list in alphabetical order. Although the list if not yet final, much jubilation and pride has passed since Weber’s announcement. Before you find out who made the cut, it is important find out more about this campaign and about other 7 wonders lists.

Weber, the man behind the campaign

An author, aviator, explorer, filmmaker and museum curator all rolled into one, that’s Bernard Weber, founding president of the New7Wonders Foundation. Weber, a Swiss-born Canadian who speaks 5 languages, has had his share of adventures all over the world. He has seen what many men and women can only dream of. And, he has met and interacted with peoples of different cultures from across the globe.

Because of his past experiences, adventures and explorations, he has come to develop a greater appreciation for the beauty of his home planet and the inexplicable talent and skill of his fellow inhabitants. Before he launched the campaign for the New 7 Wonders of Nature, he first began with the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Weber’s Foundation

Weber wanted to be part of protecting the different man-made structures and natural heritage of the planet. He did this by establishing the New7Wonders Foundation in Switzerland in 2001. This foundation is a privately funded organization and is currently headquartered at Zurich’s Heidi-Weber Museum.

The new millennium back in 2000 was a fitting time to start the New 7 Wonders of the World project. Prior to the New 7 Wonders of the World, there was the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World (discussed below). Among the 7 ancient wonders, only the Egyptian Pyramids still stand. Weber thought it important for the public to pay tribute to “newer” examples of human achievement in terms of architecture, building and engineering in the past 2000 years. Unlike the ancient list, which was dictated only by one man, the new list will be a result of a democratic vote.

It was through the use of new technology, specifically the Internet that people from all over the world were able to vote for their choices. Weber saw the Internet as highly instrumental in starting a global dialogue between peoples of different races, languages, and beliefs.

7 Wonders of the Ancient World

In 200 BC, a man from Byzantium, Athens named Philon came up with a list of 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. It is said that Philon came up with the list as a sort of travel guide for his fellow Athenians. He based his choices on man-made monuments located mostly in and around the Mediterranean. Why are the man-made structures only located in the Mediterranean basin? Because during Philon’s time, the Mediterranean basis was already the whole world to them.

So what was in essentially Philon’s list of must-sees? Here they are:

1. The Colossus of Rhodes. To honor Helios, the Sun God, Chares of Lindos was tasked to construct the Colossus of Rhodes. It took him 10 years (some say 12, from 304 BC to 292 BC) to build the bronze statue that once measured 110 feet or 32 meters. The Colossus stood on top of a marble plinth back in its time. When an earthquake shook the region in around 226 or 227 BC, the Colossus of Rhodes suffered cracks specifically on area of the knees. This eventually caused the gigantic statue to collapse into pieces. For hundreds of years, its fragments were left lying on the ground to be admired. The valuable parts of the statue were eventually taken from Greece to Syria when the Arabs invaded Rhodes in 654 AD

2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar was credited for creating the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a tribute to his beloved wife Semiramis. Although there are other versions of the story. Scholars believed that the ancient garden was built around the 7th century BC in an area close to what is now known as Baghdad, Iraq. The botanical garden was created in the midst of the hot Mesopotamian desert. And this is the reason why it is such a testament to man’s skill. The garden featured different types of flora together with waterfalls, exotic creatures and features unexpected to be seen or thrive in the desert. Unfortunately, until now, no definitive traces of the gardens have been found making some historians and archaeologists skeptical about it’s existence.

3. The Lighthouse of Alexandria. Also known as the Pharos of Alexandria, this lighthouse was built in Egypt to help ships navigate the maze of sandbars as they try to reach the port of Alexandria. Believed to have been constructed between 299 BC and 79 BC, the structure stood about 500 feet or 166 meters. During daylight hours, bronze mirrors were used to reflect the rays of the sun out to the sea. A night, fires served as beacons for incoming ships. History suggests that it was Sostratus, a Greek merchant, who provided the money to build the lighthouse in order to ensure the safety of the ships going into Alexandria. The lighthouse eventually fell into ruin due to earthquakes and deterioration brought about by natural elements.

4. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Queen Artemisia II of Caria had the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus built for her husband, King Mausolus between 370 BC and 351 BC The monumental structure, also known as the Tomb of Mausolus, was 135 feet or 45 meters high and featured 36 columns. Sculptural reliefs adorn each of the four sides of the mausoleum. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was a testament of Artemisia’s love for Mausolus. The tomb lasted intact for many years. In 1522 AD, it was destroyed because it was viewed as one of the examples of pagan art. Halicarnassus is located in what is now Bodrum, Turkey.

5. The Statue of Zeus. Phidias, an Athenian sculptor, created a statue in honor of Zeus, the most powerful god of Mt. Olympus. Commissioned by the Council of Olympia in 438 BC, the statue that resided inside the Parthenon, the great temple that overlooked the city of Athens, was made of gold and jewels. It was not only a site to visit for the Greeks back then but it was also a place to worship the greatest of all the Greek gods. In 170 BC, the statue of Zeus was destroyed when an earthquake struck the city of Athens.

6. The Temple of Artemis. The Temple of Artemis was a tribute to the Greek goddess, sister of the god Apollo and daughter of Zeus. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and at the same time, a known protector of wild bests. She was also referred to as mistress of nature. The Temple of Artemis, located in ancient Ephesus (now part of Turkey) was once a fine example of Hellenistic culture. The temple featured 127 marble columns measuring 60 feet or 20 meters height. Built around the 6th century BC, 200 years after its construction, fire ravaged the temple. Upon the instructions of Alexander the Great, the Temple of Artemis was rebuilt. Both nature and man caused the eventual destruction of this great temple. Today, only one column stands to give testament to its past existence.

7. The Pyramids of Egypt. Fortunately for humankind, the Pyramids in Giza are still keeping a close watch over the lands of Egypt. Among the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, only the pyramids remain standing. Constructed between 2600 BC and 2500 BC, these monumental structures are made up of over 5 million blocks of limestone. The largest among the three pyramids, aptly called the Great Pyramid, is said to be the Pharaoh Khufu’s tomb. It stands about 280 feet or 146 meters high. Until now, there is much debate as to how exactly the Pyramids were built given that the peoples of Egypt back then only had access to simple tools.

New 7 Wonders of the World

After 7 years of global voting over the Internet, through SMS and via telephone lines, over 100 millions votes were counted before a final announcement was made on July 7, 2007 in Lisbon Portugal for the world’s 7 newest wonders. Three are found in Latin America, two in Asia, and one each in Europe and the Middle East. The New 7 Wonders of the World are representative of the past 2000 years’ most important civilizations. These civilizations include: Roman, Arab, Chinese, Inca, Indian and Mayan.

1. The Pyramid at Chichén Itzá. Built prior to 800 AD in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Chichén Itzá was the center of Mayan politics and economics. The temple city’s main attraction today is a stepped pyramid with a square based called the El Castillo de la Serpiente Emplumada (“Castle of the Plumed Serpent”). It measures roughly 75 feet all. Other features of the temple city can still be seen today which include the Temple of Chac Mool, the Chichan Chob (“Red House”), the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, the Playing Field of the Prisoners and the Caracol or Observatory.

2. Christ Redeemer. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, you can find a statue of Jesus Christ that stands around 130 feet or 39.6 meters tall (this includes the pedestal that measures 31 feet or 9.5 meters tall). It is called Cristo Redentor (Portuguese) or Christ the Redeemer. Weighing aroung 635 tonnes, this statue with outstretched arms was designed by Heitor da Silva Costa from Brazil but executed by Paul Landowski, a French sculptor. Landowski spent 5 years constructing this monument that is found high on top of the Corcovado Mountain. Inauguration was held on October 12, 1931, it has been watching over Rio de Janeiro ever since.

3. Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu means “old mountain.” This was where Emperor Pachacútec, 15th century leader of the Incas, built his estate around 1460 - 1470. Machu Picchu was constructed on the Andes Plateau, on Peru’s Urubamba Valley. The city was said to have been abandoned by its inhabitants after multiple cases of smallpox broke out. For more than 300 years, after the Spanish defeated the empire of the Incas, the city was lost to the world. It was never found by the Spaniards, and therefore, never destroyed. In 1911, American Hiram Bingham rediscovered the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Tourists have been visiting Machu Picchu ever since.

4. The Taj Mahal. Agra, India is the site of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s tribute to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, third among his wives. The grand mausoleum was built in 1630 AD using white marble. The structure is Mughal architecture at its best. The style combines Indian, Persian and Turkish styles. The Taj Mahal is one of the most admired buildings in the world.

5. The Great Wall of China. It is said that the Great Wall of China is the only human-made structure that astronauts can see from space. The wall is not built as a continuous wall. It is actually a series of fortifications eventually linked together to keep the Mongol invaders from entering the Kingdom of China. Measuring around 8,851.8 kilometers or 5,500.3 miles, the wall’s construction period was said to have gone on for 2,000 years. It started during the Warring States Period between 476 BC - 221 BC and ended during the Ming Dynasty 1644 AD Literally blood, sweat and tears went into the construction of the famous Great Wall of China.

6. The Roman Colosseum. Located in the center of the Italian City of Rome, the Colosseum has seen its share of gladiatorial contests, classical dramas, public spectacles and more. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the stadium is a prime example of Roman architecture and engineering. Built around 70 AD to 82 AD, the Colosseum’s design continues to give inspiration to modern sports stadiums across the globe. Today, it stands partially ruined because of earthquakes and past stone-robbery. It remains an iconic symbol of the city of Rome.

7. Petra. It was during the reign of King Areas IV of the Nabataean empire that the city of Petra was built. This was between 9 BC and 40 AD in what is now known as the Kingdom of Jordan. Petra, an important archaeological and historical city, was carved out of rock. Referred to at times as the Red-Rose City because of the color of the rock, Petra has several ancient buildings including the El-Deir Monastery, several tombs and even a Roman theater. Aside from the buildings and roads, Petra featured water conduit systems and tunnels that showed just how brilliant its builders were at that time.

The end of the New 7 Wonders of the World campaign in 2007 was the start of a new campaign: The New 7 Wonders of Nature.

New 7 Wonders of Nature

From 77 voted nominees, 28 official finalist candidates vied to be included in this prestigious list of New 7 Wonders of Nature. Celebrities, politicians and other important figures from all over the world, as well as ordinary citizens, campaigned for their favorite candidates. Social networking sites were used heavily to rally people to vote.

The provisional list of New 7 Wonders of Nature is based on the initial counting of the votes. The initial results will need to be verified before a final list of winners can be announced. This leaves a possibility of changes in the provisional list.

Here are the 7 that made it to the provisional winners’ list.

1. Amazon. Amazonia, the Amazon Basin, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Amazon jungle are the different names by which the Amazon is called. This highly diverse and species-rich rainforest is part of nine nations in South America, namely: Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela and French Guiana. Measuring roughly 7 million square kilometers, the actual forest is only around 5.5 million square kilometers. Rich in different species of flora and fauna, the Amazon represents more than half of the Earth’s last remaining rainforests. This makes the Amazon a very important ecosystem that needs to be protected by man.

2. Halong Bay. In Vietnam’s Quáng Ninh province, one can find a bay rich in limestone karsts. Karsts look like monolithic islands jutting out from the water. Thick vegetation is usually found on top of these karsts. Halong Bay, where these karsts are bountiful, also has many isles in different shapes and sizes. The coastline is around 120 kilometers long. There are 1969 islets according to the locals. Caves are found in some of the islands. Some islands also feature lakes inside them. Different species of fishes and more than 450 kinds of mollusks can be found in Halong Bay. Apart from water creatures, animals such as monkeys, antelopes, lizards, bantams and different species of birds live on the islands.

3. Iguazu Falls. The Iguazu Falls is part of two National Parks. It borders the state of Paraná in Brazil and the province of Misiones in Argentina. This large waterfall system located in the Iguazu River takes on a semi-circular configuration. Also known by the names Iguassu Falls and Iguaçu Falls, the falls split the river into two: the upper Iguaza and the lower Iguazu. There are about 275 waterfalls that make up the Iguazu Falls. The tallest of all these waterfalls is called the Devil’s Throat. It is shaped like the letter “U” and towers at a height of 82 meters. Hundreds of endangered and rare species of plants and animals are found in both subtropical rainforests where Iguaza Falls is located.

4. Jeju Island. At the southernmost tip of the Korean Peninsula is Jeju Island. It is a volcanic island that features a dormant volcano, Mt. Hallasan. This is South Korea’s tallest mountain rising 1,950 meters above sea level. Around the main volcano are 360 satellite volcanoes. The island has a system of now empty lava tubes that used to serve as natural conduits for magma, pillar-shaped rocks, wide variety of flora and fauna and other important natural features. Jeju Island is South Korea’s smallest province and at the same time, its largest island.

5. Komodo. The Republic of Indonesia has roughly 17,508 islands. One of them is Komodo, which is one of the larger islands that make up Komodo National Park. The two other islands are Rinca and Padar. The National Park, founded in 1980 for the protection of the Komodo dragon, is 1,817 square miles, 1/3 of this area is land. The Komodo dragon, a kind of monitor lizard, is the largest living lizard in the world. The island is named after this mighty beast. Komodo also features a beach that appears to have pink sand. The sand is actually a mixture of white and red sand.

6. Puerto Princesa Underground River. 50 kilometers north of Puerto Princesa, a city on the island of Palawan in the Republic of the Philippines, is an underground river system featuring stalagmites, stalactites and large chambers. Many limestone karst mountains can be found in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. It is said that the 8.2-kilometer underground river is the longest in the world. There is a clear lagoon right at the mouth of the underground cave. Different types of animals such as monkeys, squirrels and large monitor lizards can be found living on the beach close to the cave.

7. Table Mountain. In Cape Town, South Africa, one can find a flat-topped mountain rich in different species of flora and fauna including rare and endangered ones. Its name is Table Mountain. The main feature of this mountain is a roughly 3 kilometer level plateau; that’s 3 kilometers from all sides. Located at the eastern side of Table Mountain is Devil’s Peak; at the western side is Lion’s Head. Table Mountain has a diverse collection of plants. One estimate noted that about 2,200 plant species can be found on this mountain even though it is considered the world’s smallest floral kingdom. A number of animals also call Table Mountain their home.

The final announcement of the confirmed winners of the New 7 Wonders of Nature will happen sometime in 2012. Both New 7 Wonders campaigns were not without any criticisms. Some criticized the selection process while others had a thing or two to say about the voting process. Other aspects of the projects were also under scrutiny. However, one thing that cannot be criticized is that the campaigns opened a global dialogue among people of different ethnicities, beliefs and social standings. Both campaigns shone lights on the different finalists. The projects increased tourism thereby helping the local economies.

From now until then, why don’t you get to know more about the winners of the recently concluded campaign and the runners-up? Or join the next campaign: The New 7 Wonders Cities. Nominate your favorite city now at New7Wonders.


Riley Brent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Riley Brent said...

I was one of the people who voted in search for the New 7 Wonders of the world. I'd love to go to these places and take pictures too. By the way, I chose Jeju Island. It's one of the best destinations in Korea. I've not been to Korea yet but I've seen a lot of Korean movies that featured Jeju Island.

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George Schneider said...

In no time, a lot of villas and other hotels will be built near by these 7 wonders. It would be a great idea but these companies must ensure the safety of the wonders. Companies must plan to put the hotels and other villas a little bit farther from the center of the wonders to preserve and maintain the beauty of the place.

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TLJ said...

Thank you for taking interest on our blog. You might wish to read the City Profile of Jeju Island ( in our website at Day Translations. Here you will find, among others, the interesting facts about Jeju Island, things to see and do, and customs and traditions. We hope you will enjoy reading it

Jennifer Swift said...

I've seen a lot of movies that featured The Temple of Artemis. I don't if they shot it in that place or they've just used special effects to resemble the temple. Anyway, I'd love to visit Greece to see the wonders that Greeks are proud of. By the way, I read the blog about Jeju Island and it's beautiful. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts.

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Mildred Rodriguez said...

Thailand should have had their own entry in this. They have beautiful wonders of natures too.
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