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Final candidates for new seven wonders
By The Associated Press
Thu Jul 5, 3:29 PM ET
The final candidates in the contest to name the new seven wonders of the world. The Great Pyramids in Giza will retain their status as one of the original seven wonders of the world.
PYRAMIDS OF GIZA, EGYPT
The only surviving structures of the original seven wonders, the three pyramids were built as tombs for 4th dynasty pharaohs about 4,500 years ago. The largest of the three pyramids, the 452-foot-high Great Pyramid, was built for King Cheops. Nearby is the Great Sphinx, a limestone statue with the face of a man and the body of a lion.
The Acropolis, a flat-topped hill standing above Athens, draws around a million visitors each year to walk among its 2,500-year-old marble temples and admire the statues of Greek gods and goddesses. The largest temple is the columned Parthenon, which was used as a church and then a mosque until it was heavily damaged in a 17th century war.
HAGIA SOPHIA, TURKEY
The soaring cathedral, also called the Church of Holy Wisdom, was built in 537 B.C. at Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul, under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. In 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, it became a mosque with minarets, but Turkish President Kemal Ataturk ordered it turned into a museum in 1935, allowing the Christian mosaics that had been covered by the Muslims to be revealed again.
KREMLIN AND ST. BASIL'S CATHEDRAL, RUSSIA
Onion domes with golden cupolas surrounded by red brick walls are at the heart of Moscow's Kremlin, a Medieval fortress converted into the center of Russian government, and the symbol of communist dictatorship during Soviet times. The red brick Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, on adjacent Red Square and featuring nine towers of different color, was built by Czar Ivan the Terrible in the mid-16th century to celebrate the capture of the Mongol stronghold of Kazan.
The giant amphitheater in Rome was inaugurated in A.D. 80 by the Emperor Titus in a ceremony of games lasting 100 days. The 50,000-seat Colosseum, which has influenced the design of modern sports stadiums, was an arena where thousands of gladiators dueled to the death and Christians were fed to the lions.
NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, GERMANY
The inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, Neuschwanstein is a creation of "Mad King" Ludwig II of Bavaria, who had it built in the 19th century to indulge his romantic fancies, long after the age of castles. Perched on a peak in the Bavarian Alps, the gray granite castle rises to towers, turrets and pinnacles and contains many paintings showing scenes from the operas of Richard Wagner, whose work Ludwig admired.
EIFFEL TOWER, FRANCE
The 985-foot tower, built by the engineer Gustave Eiffel for Paris' International Exposition of 1889, has become the city's symbol. Made almost entirely of open-lattice wrought iron and erected in only two years with a small labor force, the tower — Paris' highest construction — demonstrated an important advance in building techniques and at first was considered by many to be an eyesore.
How and why this circular monument of massive rocks was created between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C. is unknown, but some experts say its builders aligned the stones as part of their sun-worshipping culture, while others believe it was part of an astronomical calendar. Today it is a major tourist attraction and has spiritual significance for thousands of druids and New Age followers, some of whom gather on June 21 each year to celebrate summer solstice.
The palace and citadel, perched above the city of Granada, was the residence of the Moorish caliphs who governed southern Spain in splendor until King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled them in 1492, ending 800 years of Muslim rule. Mosaics, arabesques and mocarabe, or honeycomb work, are stunning features of the decoration.
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
The 4,160-mile barricade running from east to west in northern China is the longest man-made structure in the world. The fortification, which largely dates from the 7th through the 4th century B.C., was built to protect the dynasties from invasion by the Huns, Mongols, Turks and other nomadic tribes.
KIYOMIZU TEMPLE, JAPAN
Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera, which means Clear Water Temple, was founded by the Hosso sect of Buddhism in 798 and rebuilt in 1633 after a fire. It features a three-stream waterfall which is believed to confer health, longevity and success to the drinker.
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, AUSTRALIA
Situated on Bennelong Point reaching into Sydney's harbor, the opera house, with a roof that looks like a ship in full sail, was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II. The building, whose roof is covered by more than 1 million white tiles, features 1,000 rooms and hosts 3,000 events every year.
The Angkor archaeological site was the capital of the Khmer empire from the 9th to the 15th century, serving as an administrative center and place of worship for the most prosperous kingdom in South Asia's history. Among the features are Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, two impressive temple ruins dating from the 12th century.
TAJ MAHAL, INDIA
The white marble-domed mausoleum in Agra was built by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan between 1632 and 1654 for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. The complex — an example of Mughal architecture combining Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles — houses the graves of the emperor and his wife, as well as those of lesser royalty.
The ancient city of Timbuktu houses two of West Africa's oldest mosques, the Djingareyber, or Great Mosque, and the Sankore mosque, built during the 14th and early 15th century. Founded about 1100, it was a flourishing caravan center and leading spiritual and intellectual center, with one of the first universities in the world.
The ancient city of Petra in southwestern Jordan, built on a terrace around the Wadi Musa or Valley of Moses, was the capital of the Arab kingdom of the Nabateans. It also flourished under Roman rule after the Nabateans were defeated in A.D. 106. The city is famous for its water tunnels and numerous stone structures carved in rock, the most impressive of which is probably Ad-Dayr, an uncompleted tomb facade that served as a church during Byzantine times.
CHRIST THE REDEEMER STATUE, BRAZIL
The 125-foot-tall statue of Christ the Redeemer with outstretched arms overlooks Rio de Janeiro from atop Mt. Corcovado. The statue, which weighs more than 1,000 tons, was built by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski in pieces in France starting in 1926, then shipped to Brazil. The pieces were carried by cogwheel railway up the mountain for assembly. The statue was inaugurated in 1931.
EASTER ISLAND, CHILE
Hundreds of massive stone busts, or Moais, are all that remains from the Rapanui culture that crafted them between 400 and 1,000 years ago to represent deceased ancestors. With some standing more than 70 feet tall and weighing 60 tons, the statues gaze blankly out on the south Pacific Ocean more than 1,000 miles off the Chilean mainland.
MACHU PICCHU, PERU
Built by the Incan Empire in the 15th century, the giant walls, palaces, temples and dwellings of the Machu Picchu sanctuary are perched in the clouds at 8,000 feet above sea level in the Andes mountains. It remains a mystery how the huge stones were moved into place for the construction of the remote city.
PYRAMID AT CHICHEN ITZA, MEXICO
This step-pyramid surmounted by a temple survives from a sacred site that was part of one of the greatest Mayan centers of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Built according to the solar calendar, it is placed so that shadows cast at the fall and spring equinoxes are said to look like a snake crawling down the steps, similar to the carved serpent at the top.
STATUE OF LIBERTY, UNITED STATES
The 305-foot statue holding a torch has towered over New York harbor since 1886 when it was dedicated as a gift of the French government, welcoming immigrants and Americans returning from abroad. An elevator inside takes visitors to the 10-story pedestal observatory, but access to the inside of the crown and torch is no longer permitted.
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