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New Seven Wonders of the World Are Announced After Voting Campaign


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I'm Steve Ember. And I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Two thousand five hundred years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus is believed to have made a list of what he thought were the most extraordinary structures in the world. His list became known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. People all over the world recently voted to create a new list. Join us as we explore the New Seven Wonders of the World.There was nothing wrong with the list of ancient wonders that Herodotus made. The list included places such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in what is now Iraq. This was a huge system of gardens with trees and flowers. The Colossus of Rhodes is also on the list. It was a 37 meter tall metal statue of the Greek sun god Helios. The statue was built on the Greek island of Rhodes.

But this wondrous list only included structures near the Mediterranean Sea.  This was the only area of the world known to the ancient Greeks.  Only one of the seven places still exists today. The Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt were built about 4,500 years ago as a burial place for an ancient ruler. For thousands of years, they were the tallest structures in the world.The Swiss explorer Bernard Weber decided the list of seven wonders needed updating. But he says he did not want one person to decide on the new list.  He wanted everyone to vote for the world's cultural treasures. He knew that with the modern technologies of the Internet and cell phones everyone in the world could vote.

In 2001 Mr. Weber started an organization called the New Seven Wonders Foundation. He later invited people around the world to vote on places they thought belonged on the new list. A group of building experts later reduced the list to 21 places. These experts included Japanese architect Tadao Ando and Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid.

From 2006 until last Friday, people around the world voted on their favorite places by using the Internet and cell phones. The group says it received about 100 million votes. But the group admits it did not check for repeat voting. The results were announced on July 7th in a ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal. Here is the new list of world wonders.is a temple city built by the Mayans over 1,000 years ago in what is now Mexico. Its name means "at the mouth of the well of the Itza people." The many large stone structures at Chichen Itza were built during different periods with different styles. One holy building is a triangular shaped step pyramid called the Temple of Kukulcan. This huge structure has a staircase on each of the four sides that leads to the religious altar at the top. There are many other temples and even a large court area where the Mayans played ball games.

is a large religious statue on a hill overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Catholic religious leaders in the city started planning the project in the 1920s. This 38 meter statue of Jesus was completed in 1931. It is made of concrete and soapstone materials. Christ the Redeemer was designed by the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and the French sculptor Paul Landowski.

is one of the largest building projects ever carried out. This wall extends for over 7,000 kilometers and was built to defend against foreign invaders. The oldest parts of the wall were built over 2,600 years ago. More recent parts were built about 500 years ago. The ruler Qin Shi Huang Ti created the first unified China about 2,200 years ago. This ruler connected the many different parts of the wall into one huge systemThe ancient ruins of Machu Picchu sit high in the Andes Mountains of what is now Peru, 80 kilometers northeast of Cuzco. Experts believe the many stone buildings were built around the middle of the 15th century by the Incan ruler Pachacutec Yupanqui. The buildings include homes, burial places, religious centers, storage areas, and watch towers.  In one area is the famous Intihuatana, or the "Hitching Post of the Sun." This ancient stone sun clock shows astronomical events such as the spring and fall equinox when night and day are equal length. Experts do not know the exact role of the ancient city of Machu Picchu. It might have been built for ceremonial reasons or as a home for the Incan ruler.

Petra was another ancient city built about 2,000 years ago in what is now Jordan. It was the capital of ancient Nabataea and was famous for its trade industry and water engineering systems. The area is also famous for the beautiful buildings carved into huge walls of solid red sandstone rock. "Petra" means rock in Greek. The monuments, burial places and religious buildings at Petra combine ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian styles of building. One of the most well known buildings is called al-Khazneh which is Arabic for "the treasury." The building was really a burial place for a ruling family. But long ago some people falsely believed treasures were stored inside.The Colosseum in Rome, Italy was built about 2,000 years ago by the Flavian rulers. This huge circular stone and concrete building could hold about 50,000 people.  For hundreds of years, people gathered there to watch games.  They included fights between professional gladiator soldiers and naval battles between ships. Each of the first three levels of the Colosseum has 80 large rounded arch openings. The Colosseum was badly damaged over the centuries by a fire and a series of earthquakes. Starting in the 13th century, fallen stones from the Colosseum were taken to be used for other building projects. But the building has since been carefully repaired. The circular form of this building has influenced many modern sports buildings.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India was built by the Mogul ruler Shah Jahan in the 17th century. The building is famous for its beautiful white marble surface inlaid with small pieces of colorful stones.  It is also a symbol of Shah Jahan's love for his wife. He built this monument as a burial place for her. She is said to have asked him to build a monument in her memory. More than 20,000 workers built the Taj Mahal. It beautifully combines the styles of Indian, Persian and Islamic building.Fourteen other buildings did not make the list of the new seven wonders of the world.  These include Angkor Wat in Cambodia; the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.  They also include the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia; the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

This new list of wonders has its critics. The Egyptian antiquities expert Zahi Hawass says the list has no value because masses of people do not write history. The Egyptian government expressed its anger when the New Seven Wonders voting began. Egypt believed its pyramids should not need to be voted on since they have always been listed as a world wonder. The New Seven Wonders group gave the pyramids an honorary position on the list. So there are actually now eight wonders of the world.

The United Nation's cultural program UNESCO released a statement on the subject this week. UNESCO made it very clear that it had no link with the New Seven Wonders group. The statement says Bernard Weber wanted to work with UNESCO, but the group refused. UNESCO has said its goal is to protect places of cultural value and simply making a new list does not help their aim.

UNESCO added that the new list of wonders shows the opinions of some people who have Internet and not the opinion of the entire world.This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Barbara Klein.

And I'm Steve Ember. You can see pictures of these world wonders at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find transcripts and audio archives of our programs. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.


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