New 7 Wonders of the World
New 7 Wonders of the World (2000–2007) was a campaign started in 2000 to choose Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments. The popularity poll was led by Canadian-Swiss Bernard Weber and organized by the New 7 Wonders Foundation based in Zurich, Switzerland, with winners announced on 7 July 2007 in Lisbon.
The Great Pyramid of Giza, largest and oldest of the three pyramids at the Giza Necropolis in Egypt and the only surviving of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was granted honorary status.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is a defining symbol of Egypt and the last of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. It is located on the Giza plateau near the modern city of Cairo and was built over a twenty-year period during the reign of the king Khufu (2589-2566 BCE, also known as Cheops) of the 4th Dynasty. Until the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France in 1889 CE, the Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest structure made by human hands in the world; a record it held for over 3,000 years and one unlikely to be broken.
Other scholars have pointed to the Lincoln Cathedral spire in England, built in 1300 CE, as the structure which finally surpassed the Great Pyramid of Giza in height but, still, the Egyptian monument held the title for an impressive span of time. The pyramid rises to a height of 479 feet (146 meters) with a base of 754 feet (230 meters) and is comprised of over two million blocks of stone. Some of these stones are of such immense size and weight (such as the granite slabs in the King’s Chamber) that the logistics of raising and positioning them so precisely seems an impossibility by modern standards.
The pyramid was first excavated 1880
The pyramid was first excavated using modern techniques and scientific analysis in 1880 CE by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942 CE), the British archaeologist who set the standard for archaeological operations in Egypt generally and at Giza specifically. Writing on the pyramid in 1883 CE, Flinders Petrie noted:
The Great Pyramid has lent its name as a sort of by-word for paradoxes; and, like moths to a candle, so are theorizers attracted to it
Although many theories persist as to the purpose of the pyramid, the most widely accepted understanding is that it was constructed as a tomb for the king. Exactly how it was built, however, still puzzles people in the modern day. The theory of ramps running around the outside of the structure to move the blocks into place has been largely discredited. So-called “fringe” or “New Age” theories abound, in an effort to explain the advanced technology required for the structure, citing extra-terrestrials and their imagined frequent visits to Egypt in antiquity.
These theories continue to be advanced in spite of the increasing body of evidence substantiating that the pyramid was built by the ancient Egyptians using technological means which, most likely, were so common to them that they felt no need to record them. Still, the intricacy of the interior passages, shafts, and chambers (The King’s Chamber, Queen’s Chamber, and Grand Gallery) as well as the nearby Osiris Shaft, coupled with the mystery of how the pyramid was built at all and its orientation to cardinal points, encourages the persistence of these fringe theories.
Another enduring theory regarding the monument’s construction is that it was built on the backs of slaves. Contrary to the popular opinion that Egyptian monuments in general, and the Great Pyramid in particular, were built using Hebrew slave labor, the pyramids of Giza and all other temples and monuments in the country were constructed by Egyptians who were hired for their skills and compensated for their efforts. No evidence of any kind whatsoever – from any era of Egypt’s history – supports the narrative events described in the biblical Book of Exodus.
Worker’s housing at Giza was discovered and fully documented in 1979 CE by Egyptologists Lehner and Hawass but, even before this evidence came to light, ancient Egyptian documentation substantiated payment to Egyptian workers for state-sponsored monuments while offering no evidence of forced labor by a slave population of any particular ethnic group. Egyptians from all over the country worked on the monument, for a variety of reasons, to build an eternal home for their king which would last through eternity
ALTHOUGH MANY THEORIES PERSIST AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THE PYRAMID, THE MOST WIDELY ACCEPTED UNDERSTANDING IS THAT IT WAS CONSTRUCTED AS A TOMB FOR KING KHUFU.
Pyramids & the Giza Plateau
Toward the end of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-c.2613 BCE) the vizier Imhotep ((c. 2667-2600 BCE) devised a means of creating an elaborate tomb, unlike any other, for his king Djoser. Prior to Djoser’s reign (c. 2670 BCE) tombs were constructed of mud fashioned into modest mounds known as mastabas. Imhotep conceived of a then-radical plan of not only building a mastaba out of stone but of stacking these structures on top of one another in steps to create an enormous, lasting, monument. His vision led to the creation of Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara, still standing in the present day, the oldest pyramid in the world.
Still, the Step Pyramid was not a “true pyramid” and, in the period of the Old Kingdom (c. 2613-2181 BCE) the king Sneferu (c. 2613-2589 BCE) sought to improve on Imhotep’s plans and create an even more impressive monument. His first attempt, the Collapsed Pyramid at Meidum, failed because he departed too widely from Imhotep’s design. Sneferu learned from his mistake, however, and went to work on another – the Bent Pyramid – which also failed because of miscalculations in the angle from base to summit. Undeterred, Sneferu took what he learned from that experience and built the Red Pyramid, the first true pyramid constructed in Egypt.
Building a pyramid required enormous resources and the maintenance of a wide array of all kinds of skilled and unskilled workers. The kings of the 4th Dynasty – often referred to as “the pyramid builders” – were able to command these resources because of the stability of the government and the wealth they were able to acquire through trade. A strong central government and a surplus of wealth were both vital to any efforts at pyramid building and these resources were passed from Sneferu, upon his death, to his son Khufu
Khufu seems to have set to work on building his grand tomb shortly after coming to power. The rulers of the Old Kingdom governed from the city of Memphis and the nearby necropolis of Saqqara was already dominated by Djoser’s pyramid complex while other sites such as Dashur had been used by Sneferu. An older necropolis, however, was also close by and this was Giza. Khufu’s mother, Hetepheres I (c. 2566 BCE), was buried there and there were no other great monuments to compete for attention close by; so Khufu chose Giza as the site for his pyramid.
Construction of the Pyramid
The first step in constructing a pyramid, after deciding upon the best location, was organizing the crews and allocating resources and this was the job of the second-most powerful man in Egypt, the vizier. Khufu’s vizier was Hemiunu, his nephew, credited with the design and building of the Great Pyramid. Hemiunu’s father, Nefermaat (Khufu’s brother) had been Sneferu’s vizier in his pyramid-building projects and it is probable he learned a great deal about construction from these experiences.
The vizier was the final architect of any building project and had to delegate responsibility for materials, transport, labor, payments and any other aspect of the work. Written receipts, letters, diary entries, official reports to and from the palace all make clear that a great building project was accomplished at Giza under Khufu’s reign but not one of these pieces of evidence suggest exactly how the pyramid was created. The technological skill evident in the creation of the Great Pyramid still mystifies scholars, and others, in the present day. Egyptologists Bob Brier and Hoyt Hobbs comment on this:
Because of their immense size, building pyramids posed special problems of both organization and engineering. Constructing the Great Pyramid of the pharaoh Khufu, for example, required that more than two million blocks weighing from two to more than sixty tons be formed into a structure covering two football fields and rising in a perfect pyramidal shape 480 feet into the sky. Its construction involved vast numbers of workers which, in turn, presented complex logistical problems concerning food, shelter, and organization. Millions of heavy stone blocks needed not only to be quarried and raised to great heights but also set together with precision in order to create the desired shape.
It is precisely the skill and technology required to “create the desired shape” which presents the problem to anyone trying to understand how the Great Pyramid was built. Modern-day theories continue to fall back on the concept of ramps which were raised around the foundation of the pyramid and grew higher as the structure grew taller. The ramp theory, largely discredited but still repeated in one form or another, maintains that, once the foundation was firm these ramps could have easily been raised around the structure as it was built and provided the means for hauling and positioning tons of stones in precise order.
Aside from the problems of a lack of wood in Egypt to make an abundance of such ramps, the angles workers would have had to move the stones up, and the impossibility of moving heavy stone bricks and granite slabs into position without a crane (which the Egyptians did not have), the most serious problem comes down to the total impracticability of the ramp theory. Brier and Hobbs explain:
The problem is one of physics. The steeper the angle of an incline, the more effort necessary to move an object up that incline. So, in order for a relatively small number of men, say ten or so, to drag a two-ton load up a ramp, its angle could not be more than about eight percent. Geometry tells us that to reach a height of 480 feet, an inclined plane rising at eight percent would have to start almost one mile from its finish.
It has been calculated that building a mile-long ramp that rose as high as the Great Pyramid would require as much material as that needed for the pyramid itself – workers would have had to build the equivalent of two pyramids in the twenty-year time frame.
A variation on the ramp theory was proposed by the French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin who claims ramps were used inside of the pyramid. Houdin believes that ramps may have been used externally in the initial stages of construction but, as the pyramid grew taller, work was done internally. The quarried stones were brought in through the entrance and moved up the ramps to their position.
This, Houdin claims, would account for the shafts one finds inside the pyramid. This theory, however, does not account for the weight of the stones or the number of workers on the ramp required to move them up to an angle inside the pyramid and into position.
The ramp theory in either of these forms fails to explain how the pyramid was built while a much more satisfactory possibility rests right below the monument: the high water table of the Giza plateau. Engineer Robert Carson, in his work The Great Pyramid: The Inside Story, suggests that the pyramid was built using water power. Carson also suggests the use of ramps but in a much more cogent fashion: the interior ramps were supplemented by hydraulic power from below and hoists from above.
Although the Egyptians had no knowledge of a crane as one would understand that mechanism the present day, they did have the shaduf, a long pole with a bucket and rope at one end and counter-weight at the other, typically used for drawing water from a well. Hydraulic power from below, coupled with hoists from above could have moved the stones throughout the interior of the pyramid and this would also account for the shafts and spaces one finds in the monument which other theories have failed to fully account for.
It is abundantly clear that the water table at Giza is still quite high in the present day and was higher in the past. Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, writing on his excavation of the Osiris Shaft near the Great Pyramid in 1999 CE, notes how “the excavation proved to be very challenging mainly due to the dangerous nature of the work caused by the high water table” (381). In the same article, Hawass notes how, in 1945 CE, guides at Giza were regularly swimming in the waters of this underground shaft and that “the rising water table in the shaft prevented scholars from studying it further”
Further, earlier attempts to excavate the Osiris Shaft – by Selim Hassan in the 1930’s CE – and observations (though no excavation) of the shaft by Abdel Moneim Abu Bakr in the 1940’s CE – also make note of this same high water table. Geological surveys have determined that the Giza plateau and surrounding region was much more fertile in the time of the Old Kingdom than it is today and that the water table would have been higher.
Considering this, Carson’s theory of water power used in building the pyramid makes the most sense. Carson claims the monument “could only be constructed by means of hydraulic power; that a hydraulic transportation system was set up inside the Great Pyramid” (5). Harnessing the power of the high water table, the ancient builders could have constructed the pyramid much more reasonably than by some form of exterior ramping system.
Once the interior was completed, the whole of the pyramid was covered in white limestone which would have shone brilliantly and been visible from every direction for miles around the site. As impressive as the Great Pyramid is today, one must recognize that it is a monument in ruin as the limestone long ago fell away and was utilized as a building material for the city of Cairo (just as the nearby city of ancient Memphis was).
When it was completed, the Great Pyramid must have appeared as the most striking creation the Egyptians had ever seen. Even today, in its greatly weathered state, the Great Pyramid inspires awe. The sheer size and scope of the project are literally amazing. Historian Marc van de Mieroop writes:
The size boggles the mind
it was 146 meters high (479 feet) by 230 meters at the base (754 feet). We estimate that it contained 2,300,000 blocks of stone with an average weight of 2 and 3/4 tons some weighing up to 16 tons. Khufu ruled 23 years according to the Turin Royal Canon, which would mean that throughout his reign annually 100,000 blocks – daily about 285 blocks or one every two minutes of daylight – had to be quarried, transported, dressed, and put in place…The construction of the great pyramid of Giza was almost faultless in design. The sides were oriented exactly toward the cardinal points and were at precise 90-degree angles. (58)
The workers who accomplished this were skilled and unskilled laborers hired by the state for the project. These workers either volunteered their efforts to pay off a debt, for community service or were compensated for their time. Although slavery was an institution practiced in ancient Egypt, no slaves, Hebrew or otherwise, were used in creating the monument. Brier and Hobbs explain the logistics of the operation:
Were it not for the two months every year when the Nile‘s water covered Egypt’s farmland, idling virtually the entire workforce, none of this construction would have been possible. During such times, a pharaoh offered food for work and the promise of a favored treatment in the afterworld where he would rule just as he did in this world. For two months annually, workmen gathered by the tens of thousands from all over the country to transport the blocks a permanent crew had quarried during the rest of the year.
Overseers organized the men into teams to transport the stones on sleds, devices better suited than wheeled vehicles to moving weighty objects over shifting sand. A causeway, lubricated by water, smoothed the uphill pull. No mortar was used to hold the blocks in place, only a fit so exact that these towering structures of the great pyramid of Giza have survived for 4,000 years (17-18).
The yearly inundation of the Nile River was essential for the livelihood of the Egyptians in that it deposited rich soil from the riverbed all across the farmlands of the shore; it also, however, made farming those lands an impossibility during the time of the flood. During these periods, the government provided work for the farmers through labor on their great monuments.
These were the people who did the actual, physical, work in moving the stones, raising the obelisks, building the temples, creating the pyramids which continue to fascinate and inspire people in the present day. It is a disservice to their efforts and their memory, not to mention the grand culture of the Egyptians, to continue to insist that these structures were created by poorly treated slaves who were forced into their condition because of ethnicity. The biblical Book of Exodus is a cultural myth purposefully created to distinguish one group of people living in the land of Canaan from others and should not be regarded as history.
IT IS A DISSERVICE TO THEIR EFFORTS & THEIR MEMORY, NOT TO MENTION THE GRAND CULTURE OF THE EGYPTIANS, TO CONTINUE TO INSIST THAT THESE STRUCTURES WERE CREATED BY POORLY TREATED SLAVES.
The Great Pyramid of Giza as Tomb
All of this effort went to creating a grand tomb for the king who, as a mediator between the gods and the people, was thought to be deserving of the finest of tombs. Theories regarding the original purpose of the Great Pyramid range from the fanciful to the absurd and may be investigated elsewhere but the culture which produced the monument would have regarded it as a tomb, an eternal home for the king.
Tombs which have been excavated throughout Egypt, from the most modest to the rich example of Tutankhamun‘s – along with other physical evidence – make clear the ancient Egyptian belief in a life after death and the concern for the soul’s welfare in this new world. Grave goods were always placed in the tomb of the deceased as well as, in wealthier tombs, inscriptions, and paintings on the walls (known as the Pyramid Texts, in some cases). The Great Pyramid is simply the grandest form of one of these tombs.
Arguments against the Great Pyramid as a tomb cite the fact that no mummies or grave goods have ever been found inside. This argument willfully ignores the plentiful evidence of grave robbing from ancient times to the present. Egyptologists from the 19th century CE onwards have recognized that the Great Pyramid was looted in antiquity and, most likely, during the time of the New Kingdom (c. 1570-1069 BCE) when the Giza necropolis was replaced by the area now known as The Valley of the Kings near Thebes.
world’s “first Egyptologist who did a good job for the great pyramid of Giza
This is not to suggest that Giza was forgotten, there is ample evidence of New Kingdom pharaohs such as Ramesses the Great (1279-1213 BCE) taking great interest in the site. Rameses II had a small temple built at Giza in front of the Sphinx as a token of honor and it was Rameses II’s fourth son, Khaemweset, who devoted himself to preserving the site. Khaemweset never ruled Egypt but was a crown prince whose efforts to restore the monuments of the past are well documented. He is, in fact, considered the world’s “first Egyptologist” for his work in restoration, preservation, and recording of ancient monuments and especially for his work at Giza.
Further, work conducted on the Osiris Shaft – and other areas around the site – have shown activity during the 26th Dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1069-525 BCE) and into the Late Period (c. 525-332 BCE). Giza was, therefore, an active site throughout Egypt’s history but was not always given the kind of attention it received during the Old Kingdom. Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BCE, reported that the Great Pyramid had been looted and visitor’s to the site in the modern-day enter through the so-called Robbers Tunnel created c. 820 CE by Caliph al-Ma’mun seeking to recover whatever treasures the pyramid held inside. Tomb robbers before and after the caliph had also visited the pyramid prior to the excavations of the 19th century CE. Whatever treasures the pyramid may have held in the time of Khufu could have been removed at any time from the Old Kingdom onward.
The Great Pyramid of Giza: The Giza Plateau
Following Khufu’s death, his son Khafre (2558-2532 BCE) took the throne and began building his own pyramid next to his father’s. The king Menkaure (2532-2503 BCE) came after Khafre and followed the same paradigm of building his eternal home at Giza. Khafre and Menkaure added their own temple complexes and monuments, such as the Great Sphinx of Giza under Khafre’s reign, but these were on a smaller scale than that of Khufu’s work. It is no accident or mystery as to why the Great Pyramid is the largest and the other two are progressively smaller: as the period of the Old Kingdom continued, with the government’s emphasis on grand building projects, resources became more and more scarce. Menkaure’s successor, Shepseskaf (2503-2498 BCE) had the resources to complete Menkaure’s pyramid complex but could afford no such luxury for himself; he was buried in a modest mastaba tomb at Saqqara.
Still, Giza continued to be regarded as an important site and funds were allocated as long as they were available for its upkeep. Giza was a thriving community for centuries with temples, shops, a market place, housing, and a sturdy economy. Individuals in the present day speculating on the lonely, deserted, mystical outpost of Giza ignore the evidence of what the complex would have been like for most of Egypt’s long history. The present-day understanding of the plateau as some isolated outpost of monuments encourages theories which do not align with how Giza actually was when those monuments were constructed. Theories suggesting mysterious tunnels beneath the plateau have been debunked – yet still, persist – including speculations concerning the Osiris Shaft.
This complex of underground chambers was most likely dug, as Hawass contends, in honor of the god Osiris and may or may not have been where the king Khufu was originally laid to rest. Herodotus mentions the Osiris Shaft (though not by that name, which was only given to it recently by Hawass) in writing of Khufu’s burial chamber which was said to be surrounded by water. Excavations of the shaft and the chambers have recovered artifacts dating from the Old Kingdom through the Third Intermediate Period but no tunnels branching out beneath the plateau. Osiris, as lord of the dead, would certainly have been honored at Giza and underground chambers recognizing him as ruler in the afterlife were not uncommon throughout Egypt’s history.
Napoleon’s work for the Great Pyramid of Giza
Although the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the other smaller pyramids, temples, monuments, and tombs there, continued to be respected throughout Egypt’s history, the site fell into decline after the Roman occupation and the annexation of the country in 30 BCE. The Romans concentrated their energies on the city of Alexandria and the abundant crops the country offered, making Egypt into Rome‘s “breadbasket”, as the phrase goes. The site was more or less neglected until Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign of 1798-1801 CE during which he brought along his team of scholars and scientists to document ancient Egyptian culture and monuments. Napoleon’s work in Egypt attracted others to the country who then inspired still others to visit, make their own observations, and conduct their own excavations.
Throughout the 19th century CE, ancient Egypt became increasingly the object of interest for people around the world. Professional and amateur archaeologists descended upon the country seeking to exploit or explore the ancient culture for their own ends or in the interests of science and knowledge. The Great Pyramid was first fully excavated professionally by the British archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie whose work on the monument lay the foundation for any others who followed up to the present day.
Flinders Petrie was obviously interested in exploring every nuance of the Great Pyramid but not at the expense of the monument itself. His excavations were performed with great care in an effort to preserve the historical authenticity of the work he was examining. Although this may seem a common sense approach in the modern day, many European explorers before Flinders Petrie, archaeologists professional and amateur, brushed aside any concerns of preservation in pursuing their goal of unearthing ancient treasure troves and bringing antiquities back to their patrons. Flinders Petrie established the protocol regarding ancient monuments in Egypt which is still adhered to in the present day. His vision inspired those who came after him and it is largely due to his efforts that people today can still admire and appreciate the monument known as the Great Pyramid of Giza. Read Even More about the Great Pyramid of Giza at Wikipedia.
New 7 Wonders of the World: No. 1. The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest sights in the world — the longest wall in the world, an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over rugged country and steep mountains take in some great scenery. It is from one of the new 7 Wonders of the World.
The Great Wall facts
- Chinese name: 长城 (Chángchéng /channg-chnng/ ‘Long Wall’)
- Location: Northern China
- Length: 21,196.18 km (13,170.7 mi), all known sections were measured
- History: more than 2,300 years
Read more about Great Wall Facts.
It’s often said that the First Emperor of Qin built the Great Wall. Actually, he was not the first to build it. He linked the northern walls of the states he conquered.
|Dynasty||Great Wall History — Key Events|
|Zhou Dynasty: The (Pre-) Warring States Period (770–221 BC)||State overlords built state border walls.|
|The Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC)||The First Emperor of Qin linked the Great Wall sections on China’s northern border.|
|The Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD)||Han Wudi extended the Great Wall west to Yumen Pass and beyond.|
|The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)||Hero General Qi Jiguang rebuilt the Great Wall around Beijing.|
Why the Great Wall Was Built
- To prevent invasion
- To protect Silk Road trade
In the Qin Dynasty, the First Emperor of Qin inked the northern walls to prevent invasion from northern nations. In the Han Dynasty, the emperors extended the Great Wall far into today’s western China to protect the Silk Road trade.
How the Great Wall was Built
The majestic Great Wall was built with wisdom, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. Families were separated, and many workers died and were interred as part of the Great Wall itself.
- Workers: soldiers, peasants, rebels
- Materials: stone, soil, sand, brick
- Material delivery: by hand, rope, cart, goat
How Tall Is the Great Wall?
The height of the Great Wall is 5–8 meters (16–26 feet), where intact/restored. It was designed to be at least three times the height of a man. Some of the Wall was built along ridges, which make it look taller.
The Great Wall’s Structure — Walls, Watchtowers, Fortresses…
The Great Wall was not just a wall. It was an integrated military defensive system with watchtowers for surveillance, fortresses for command posts and logistics, beacon towers for communications, etc.
In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), the Great Wall was reconstructed to be stronger and more sophisticated, due to better construction techniques being developed.
- The wall body: The Ming Great Wall usually had battlements 1.8 meters (6 feet) high with loopholes and crenels, and parapet walls 1.2 meters (4 feet) high.
- Flanking towers: Every 500 meters or less (1,640 feet) on the Great Wall there was a flanking tower allowing defenders to shoot arrows at attackers at the face of the wall.
- Fortresses were built at important/vulnerable access points (passes), such as Shanhai Pass Fortress, Juyong Pass Fortress, and Jiayu Pass Fortress. There were many archery windows and gates on the forts. The fortress gatehouses were the strongest and most impregnable structures on the Great Wall.
Read more about How Was the Great Wall Defended.
Present Condition — 30%+ of the Great Wall Is Gone
Due to natural erosion and human damage, about 2,000 kilometers, or 30% of the Ming Great Wall has disappeared. (Far more of previous dynasties’ Great Wall sections is gone.)
Restoration and Protection to the Great Wall of China
To prevent further loss of the Great Wall, the Chinese Government has taken measures to protect it:
- Laws to protect the Great Wall
- Funds for protection, restoration, and maintenance
As individuals, we can do the follows to protect the Great Wall:
- Plant trees to keep the Great Wall slopes protected from erosion
- Don’t litter and graffiti / remove trash and graffiti
- Don’t damage the Great Wall / take bricks home (it’s illegal)
Read more about Great wall Protection.
Great Wall Culture — Legends, Stories, Poetry…
The Great Wall is a China icon. It shows us not only China’s culture of national pride, grand projects, and determined resistance, but also China’s extravagant architecture and creativity.
During the construction of the Great Wall, there were many interesting legends and myths, such as Meng Jiang Nü weeping over the Great Wall, a sad but romantic love story set in the Qin Dynasty.
Read more on Great Wall Culture — Legends, Stories, Poetry…
The Great Wall of China Travel
The Great Wall of China is the must-visit China attraction. Perhaps the most powerful advertising words in history come from the poetic pen of Chairman Mao: “Until you reach the Great Wall, you’re no hero.” Figuratively this has come to mean ‘to get over difficulties before reaching a goal’.
Why You Should Visit The Great Wall of China?
“Greatest Human Feat in History“: The Great Wall is the building project with the longest duration and greatest cost in human lives, blood, sweat, and tears. It deserves its place among “the New Seven Wonders of the World” and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Over 300 World VIPs Have Visited the Great Wall of China
Over the years, many national leaders and celebrities have been to the Great Wall…
- Barack Obama, President of the U.S., visited the Great Wall on November 18, 2009.
- David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, visited Juyong Pass on November 10, 2010.
- See who else has been to the Great Wall.
Most Popular Sections Around Beijing
We would rank Beijing’s nearby Great Wall sections as follows, according to our customers’ feedback and our own personal experience:
- Mutianyu— the most magnificent fully-restored Great Wall section
- Jinshanling— the most popular Great Wall hiking route, with most beautiful original architecture
- Jiankou — the section that appears on most postcards, steep and perilous
New 7 Wonders of the World : No. 2. PETRA
Carved Directly Into vibrant red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, the prehistoric Jordanian city of Petra was “lost” to the Western world for hundreds of years. Located amid rugged desert canyons and mountains in what is now the southwestern corner of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Petra was once a thriving trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106. The city sat empty and in near ruin for centuries. Only in the early 1800s did a European traveler disguise himself in Bedouin costume and infiltrate the mysterious locale.
In 1985, the Petra Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in 2007 it was named one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Fact and Fiction
Several scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed in Petra. The movie’s fictional Canyon of the Crescent Moon was modeled on the eastern entrance to Petra., A 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon known as the Siq that leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury)—perhaps the most stunning of Petra’s dozens of breathtaking features.
n the film’s climactic final scenes, actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery burst forth from the Siq and walk deep into the labyrinths of the Treasury in their quest to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological fact bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra. In reality, the Treasury is nothing more than a facade with a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.
“You can’t really say that anything in Indiana Jones is accurate,” Haifa University archaeologist Ronny Reich said. “I was once asked in the United States if one of the responsibilities of Israeli archaeologists is to chase down Nazis. I told them, ‘Not anymore.'”
A giant urn carved above the entrance to the Treasury bears the marks of hundreds of gunshots. Bedouin tribesmen living in and among the ancient ruins say the damage was caused when local men would open fire with rifles, seeking the loot thought to be inside the urn (actually made of solid stone). There are dozens of tombs and other carved or constructed structures and sites within Petra.
History of Petra
The Nabataeans, before they were conquered and absorbed into the Roman Empire, controlled a vast tract of the Middle East from modern-day Israel and Jordan into the northern Arabian peninsula. The remains of their innovative networks of water capture, storage, transport, and irrigation systems are found to this day throughout this area.
Scholars know the Nabataeans were in Petra since at least 312 B.C., says archaeologist Zeidoun Al-Muheisen of Jordan’s Yarmouk University.
Al-Muheisen, who has been excavating in Petra since 1979 and specializes in the Nabataean period, says no one has yet found any archaeological evidence dating back to the fourth century B.C. The earliest findings thus far date back only to the second and first centuries B.C.
But more clues remain beneath the surface. “We have uncovered just 15 percent of the city,” he says. “The vast majority—85 percent—is still underground and untouched.”
Numerous scrolls in Greek and dating to the Byzantine period were discovered in an excavated church near the Winged Lion Temple in Petra in December 1993.
Researchers at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, the capital, are now analyzing the scrolls and hope they will shed light on life in Petra during this period.
Once Rome formally took possession of Petra in A.D. 106
Once Rome formally took possession of Petra in A.D. 106, its importance in international trade began to wane. The decay of the city continued, aided by earthquakes and the rise in importance of sea trade routes, and Petra reached its nadir near the close of the Byzantine Empire’s rule, around A.D. 700.
Visitors today can see varying blends of Nabataean and Greco-Roman architectural styles in the city’s tombs, many of which were looted by thieves and their treasures thus lost.
Today, local Bedouins selling tourist souvenirs hawk their wares not far from the place where Arabs believe Moses struck a rock with his staff, causing water to burst forth.
New 7 Wonders of the World: No. 3. Roman Colosseum
Located just east of the Roman Forum, the massive stone amphitheater known as the Colosseum was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum–officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater–with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights. After four centuries of active use, the magnificent arena fell into neglect, and up until the 18th century it was used as a source of building materials. Though two-thirds of the original Colosseum has been destroyed over time, the amphitheater remains a popular tourist destination, as well as an iconic symbol of Rome and its long, tumultuous history.
Origins of the Roman Colosseum
Even after the decadent Roman emperor, Nero took his own life in A.D. 68, his misrule and excesses fueled a series of civil wars. No fewer than four emperors took the throne in the tumultuous year after Nero’s death; the fourth, Vespasian, would end up ruling for 10 years (A.D. 69-79). The Flavian emperors, as Vespasian and his sons Titus (79-81) and Domitian (81-96) were known, attempted to tone down the excesses of the Roman court, restore Senate authority and promote public welfare. Around 70-72, Vespasian returned to the Roman people the lush land near the center of the city, where Nero had built an enormous palace for himself after a great fire ripped through Rome in A.D. 64. On the site of that Golden Palace, he decreed, would be built a new amphitheater where the public could enjoy gladiatorial combats and other forms of entertainment.
Did you know? Archaeologists believe that the Colosseum contained both drinking fountains and latrines.
After nearly a decade of construction–a relatively quick time period for a project of such a grand scale–Titus officially dedicated the Colosseum in A.D. 80 with a festival including 100 days of games. A well-loved ruler, Titus had earned his people’s devotion with his handling of recovery efforts after the infamous eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which destroyed the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The final stages of construction of the Colosseum were completed under the reign of Titus’ brother and successor, Domitian
The Colosseum: A Grand Amphitheater
Measuring some 620 by 513 feet (190 by 155 meters), the Colosseum was the largest amphitheater in the Roman world. Unlike many earlier amphitheaters, which had been dug into hillsides to provide adequate support, the Colosseum was a freestanding structure made of stone and concrete. The distinctive exterior had three stories of arched entrances–a total of around 80–supported by semi-circular columns. Each story contained columns of a different order (or style): At the bottom were columns of the relatively simple Doric order, followed by Ionic and topped by the ornate Corinthian order. Located just near the main entrance to the Colosseum was the Arch of Constantine, built in A.D. 315 in honor of Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at Pons Milvius
Inside, the Colosseum had seating for more than 50,000 spectators, who may have been arranged according to social ranking but were most likely packed into space like sardines in a can (judging by evidence from the seating at other Roman amphitheaters). Awnings were unfurled from the top story in order to protect the audience from the hot Roman sun as they watched gladiatorial combats, hunts, wild animal fights and larger combats such as mock naval engagements (for which the arena was flooded with water) put on at great expense. The vast majority of the combatants who fought in front of Colosseum audiences in Ancient Rome were men (though there were some female gladiators). Gladiators were generally slaves, condemned criminals or prisoners of war.
The Colosseum Over the Centuries
The Colosseum saw some four centuries of active use, until the struggles of the Western Roman Empire and the gradual change in public tastes put an end to gladiatorial combats and other large public entertainments by the 6th century A.D. Even by that time, the arena had suffered damage due to natural phenomena such as lightning and earthquakes. In the centuries to come, the Colosseum was abandoned completely and used as a quarry for numerous building projects, including the cathedrals of St. Peter and St. John Lateran, the Palazzo Venezia and defense fortifications along the Tiber River. Beginning in the 18th century, however, various popes sought to conserve the arena as a sacred Christian site, though it is, in fact, uncertain whether early Christian martyrs met their fate in the Colosseum, as has been speculated.
By the 20th century, a combination of weather, natural disasters, neglect, and vandalism had destroyed nearly two-thirds of the original Colosseum, including all of the arena’s marble seats and its decorative elements. Restoration efforts began in the 1990s, and have proceeded over the years, as the Colosseum continues to be a leading attraction for tourists from all over the world. Read about Machu Picchu
New 7 Wonders of the World : No. 4. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic (c. AD 600–900) through the Terminal Classic (c. AD 800–900) and into the early portion of the Postclassic period (c. AD 900–1200). The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc and Chenes styles of the Northern Maya lowlands.
The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion.
Itza was one of the largest Maya cities
Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and it was likely to have been one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans referred to in later Mesoamerican literature. The city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site.
Ruins of Itza are federal property, and the site’s stewardship is maintained by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History). The land under the monuments had been privately owned until 29 March 2010, when it was purchased by the state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico with over 2.6 million tourists in 2017. Visit Chichen Itza’s Photo Gallery here.
New 7 Wonders of the World: No. 5. Machu Picchu (macho picho)
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel, located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru, on a 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) mountain ridge. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machu Picchu District, above the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows, cutting through the Cordillera and creating a canyon with a tropical mountain climate.
The New 7 Wonders of the World – Lost City
Most archaeologists believe that it was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas” (a title more accurately applied to Vilcabamba), it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911.
Construction of Machu Picchu
The section of the mountain where Machu Picchu was built provided various challenges that the Incas solved with local materials. One issue was the seismic activity due to two fault lines. It made mortar and similar building methods nearly useless. Instead, the Inca mined stones from the quarry at the site lined them up and shaped them to fit together perfectly, stabilizing the structures. Inca walls have many stabilizing features: doors and windows are trapezoidal, narrowing from bottom to top; corners usually are rounded; inside corners often incline slightly into the rooms, and outside corners were often tied together by “L”-shaped blocks; walls are offset slightly from row to row rather than rising straight from bottom to top.
Heavy rainfall required terraces and stone chips to drain rainwater and prevent mudslides, landslides, erosion, and flooding. Terraces were layered with stone chips, sand, dirt, and topsoil, to absorb water and prevent it from running down the mountain. Similar layering protected the large city center from flooding. Multiple canals and reserves throughout the city provided water that could be supplied to the terraces for irrigation and to prevent erosion and flooding.
The Incas never used wheels in a practical way, although their use in toys shows that they knew the principle. The use of wheels in engineering may have been limited due to the lack of strong draft animals, steep terrain and dense vegetation. The approach to moving and placing the enormous stones remains uncertain, probably involving hundreds of men to push the stones up inclines. A few stones have knobs that could have been used to lever them into position; the knobs were generally sanded away, with a few overlooked.
Built in Classical Inca Style
It was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of how they originally appeared. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored and restoration continues.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll. Read about Christ the Redeemer
New 7 Wonders of the World : No. 6.Taj Mahal
THE TAJ MAHAL is widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings ever created. The exquisite marble structure in Agra, India, is a mausoleum, an enduring monument to the love of a husband for his favorite wife. It’s also an eternal testament to the artistic and scientific accomplishments of a wealthy empire.
Shah Jahan, “the King of the World,” took control of the Mughal Empire throne in 1628 very much in love with the queen he dubbed Mumtaz Mahal or “Chosen One of the Palace.” The poets at Agra’s Mughal court said her beauty was such that the moon hid its face in shame before her.
The Mughals were at the peak of their power and wealth during Shah Jahan’s reign, and India’s rich lode of precious gems yielded him much wealth and power. But he was powerless to stop Mumtaz Mahal’s death during childbirth in 1631. Legend has it that she bound him with a deathbed promise to build her the most beautiful tomb ever known.
Promise or no, Shah Jahan poured his passion and wealth into the creation of just such a monument. It is said that 20,000 stone carvers, masons, and artists from across India and as far as Turkey and Iraq were employed under a team of architects to build the Taj Mahal in the lush gardens on the banks of Agra’s Jamuna River. They completed the epic task between 1631 and 1648.
While the arch-and-dome profile of clean white marble has become iconic, other beauties lie in the Taj Mahal’s painstaking details: inlaid semiprecious stones and carvings and Koranic verse in calligraphy create an enchanting interior space where Shah Jahan came to visit his wife’s remains before he was eventually interred at her side.
The Taj Mahal’s familiar marble domes are framed by four minarets from which Muslims are called to prayer. Each is designed with a slight outward lean, presumably to protect the main mausoleum in case one of them should collapse.
Two red sandstone buildings also flank the main mausoleum on either side. One, to the west, is a mosque. The other is a former guesthouse.
These buildings are set within lush gardens, complete with an enormous reflecting pool that regularly does what no human has ever been able to accomplish—duplicate the beauty of the Taj Mahal.
Shah Jahan himself gazed upon that beautiful image until the end of his days—but as a prisoner, not a ruler. His son Aurangzeb seized the Mughal throne and imprisoned his father in Agra’s Red Fort (itself a World Heritage site and popular tourist attraction). Whether as consolation or torture, Shah Jahan commanded a view of the Taj Mahal from his window. Read about Roman Colosseum
New 7 Wonders of the World : No. 6. Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer, Portuguese Cristo Redentor, colossal statue of Jesus Christ at the summit of Mount Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, southeastern Brazil. It was completed in 1931 and stands 98 feet (30 meters) tall, its horizontally outstretched arms spanning 92 feet (28 meters). The statue, made of reinforced concrete clad in a mosaic of thousands of triangular soapstone tiles, sits on a square stone pedestal base about 26 feet (8 meters) high, which itself is situated on a deck atop the mountain’s summit. The statue is the largest Art Deco-style sculpture in the world and is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most recognizable landmarks. Christ the Redeemer is one of the New 7 wonders of the world.
The Vincentian priest Pedro Maria Boss suggested placing a Christian monument on Mount Corcovado
In the 1850s the Vincentian priest, Pedro Maria Boss suggested placing a Christian monument on Mount Corcovado to honor Isabel, princess regent of Brazil and the daughter of Emperor Pedro II, although the project was never approved. In 1921 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro proposed that a statue of Christ be built on the 2,310-foot (704-metre) summit, which, because of its commanding height, would make it visible from anywhere in Rio. Citizens petitioned Pres. Epitácio Pessoa to allow the construction of the statue on Mount Corcovado.
The New 7 Wonders of the World – Foundation stone of the base was ceremonially laid on April 4, 1922
Permission was granted, and the foundation stone of the base was ceremonially laid on April 4, 1922—to commemorate the centennial on that day of Brazil’s independence from Portugal—although the monument’s final design had not yet been chosen. That same year a competition was held to find a designer, and the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa was chosen on the basis of his sketches of a figure of Christ holding a cross in his right hand and the world in his left.
The New 7 Wonders of the World – Brazilian artist Carlos Oswald
In collaboration with Brazilian artist Carlos Oswald, Silva Costa later amended the plan; Oswald has been credited with the idea for the figure’s standing pose with arms spread wide. The French sculptor Paul Landowski, who collaborated with Silva Costa on the final design, has been credited as the primary designer of the figure’s head and hands. Funds were raised privately, principally by the church. Under Silva Costa’s supervision, construction began in 1926 and continued for five years. During that time materials and workers were transported to the summit via railway.
The New 7 Wonders of the World – Statue was dedicated on October 12, 1931
After its completion, the statue was dedicated on October 12, 1931. Over the years it has undergone periodic repairs and renovations, including a thorough cleaning in 1980, in preparation for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Brazil that year, and a major project in 2010, when the surface was repaired and refurbished. Escalators and panoramic elevators were added beginning in 2002; previously, in order to reach the statue itself, tourists climbed more than 200 steps as the last stage of the trip. In 2006, to mark the statue’s 75th anniversary, a chapel at its base was consecrated to Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil. Read about Chichen Itza
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