After such a gruelling travel schedule, one can hardly blame the people from New 7 Wonders for wanting to take a couple weeks off. From the group's Sept. 5 kick-off at the Acropolis in Greece, Bernard Weber and his team have hit 12 sites in 12 different countries -- from the furthest reaches of East Asia to Stonehenge in England -- and this week they are in India taking a closer look at the Taj Mahal. Team members, though, have most of December to rest up. Looking for the new seven wonders of the world, after all, is hard work.
The quest has been underway for some time. Weber, a filmmaker and adventurer from Switzerland, launched the project in 2001 with a vision of creating a list as imposing and impressive as the original wonders, compiled over 2,000 years ago. Since every monument on the original list -- except for the pyramids -- no longer exists, Weber reasoned it was time for an update. And, initially at least, he financed the search himself. But with growing worldwide interest in the project came the New 7 Wonders Foundation -- and a long list of possible wonders. By 2005, fully 200 buildings and monuments were on the list.
Back in 200 B.C., Philon of Byzantium chose the Seven Ancient Wonders himself. But Weber wanted to do things a bit more democratically. An Internet vote, which drew some 20 million votes, cut the list down to 77 monuments and a jury of internationally recognized architects took it from there, paring the inventory of wonders down to the 21 finalists. Weber and his 10-member team are currently engaged in the thankless task of traveling the world and taking in some of the most stunningly beautiful structures ever built.
|The Seven Ancient Wonders and their Potential Successors|
|The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World|
|The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus|
|The Hanging Gardens of Babylon|
|The Colossus of Rhodes|
|The Lighthouse of Alexandria|
|The Pyramids of Egypt|
|The Temple of Artemis|
|The Statue of Zeus|
|The 21 Candidates for the New Seven Wonders|
|The Alhambra in Granada|
|Great Wall of China|
|Eiffel Tower in Paris|
|Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero|
|Statue of Liberty in New York|
|Haghia Sophia in Istanbul|
|Machu Piccu in Peru|
|Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto|
|Colosseum in Rome|
|Kremlin in Moscow|
|The City of Timbuktu in Mali|
|Sydney Opera House|
|The Pyramids in Egypt|
|Angkor Wat in Cambodia|
|Ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico|
|Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany|
|Easter Island Statues|
|Petra in Jordan|
|Stonehenge in England|
|Taj Mahal in Agra, India|
"We give them a chance to present themselves to the global voters and to their own people," Viering says. "We just show up with our hot air balloon. They are responsible for presenting their monument the way they want us to see it."
Tuesday's viewing of the Taj Mahal will mark the end of the Asian leg of the tour -- a trip which included stops at the Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, the Great Wall of China, and the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Starting in January, the team will head to Africa to visit Timbuktu before calling at Petra in Jordan and then returning to the pyramids in Egypt. By early February, they will be in South America for stops in Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza and Easter Island. "We'll have to tether our balloon on Easter Island, says Viering. "If we fly away, it's a long, long way to the next landfall."
The last stop on their global journey is the Statue of Liberty in New York on March 6. Voting will continue until July 6 before the winners are announced on 07/07/07. And then? Then we'll have to wait and see if the new wonders develop the cachet of the old. By the year 4200 or so it should be clear.
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