The ‘Wonders of the World’ concept dates back to the 5th century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, who contemplated the incredible achievements of art & architecture by the Persians and Greeks. Various Wonders of the World lists have been published throughout history—from ancient structures (made of stone) to natural wonders—in honour of celebrating the world's most spectacular features made by man. In 2007, 200 monuments across the globe were nominated to become the next “7 New Wonders of the World”. Over 100 million voters narrowed the list down to the final seven. Amazingly—but not surprisingly, all of the monuments are built with some component of stone.
Naturally, we were curious to explore further. Here are the 7 New Wonders, from oldest to newest:
©Handson Lu–Great Wall of China
Starting with the Great Wall of China—(700 B.C.), these walls were built along the northern borders of ancient China to protect emperors’ territory. In the beginning, rammed earth and wood made up most of the wall. Each emperor strengthened and extended the wall. In some places, the wall is constructed of brick, #quarriedgranite or even #marbleblocks. These walls currently stretch ~22,000 km. It would take around 18 months to walk its length!
Next on the list is Petra—(312 B.C.), also known as the “Lost City” or “Rose City,” was built in the deserts of Jordan. Tombs, monuments, and houses were carved right into the sides of #pinksandstone cliffs using an early technique known as “rock-cutting” architecture—creating structures, buildings, and sculptures by excavating solid rock where it naturally occurs. Petra stretches approximately 100 km2 through canyons, up mountains and along riverbeds. The name Petra originates from the Greek word ‘Petros,’ which means rocks. How fitting?!
The roman Colosseum—(80 A.D.) in Italy, was built by Emperor Vespasian. Intended to be an entertainment venue, hosting gladiatorial shows and other events with 50,000-80,000 spectators. The Colosseum measures 620 x 513 ft. and is built of #travertinelimestone, #tuff (volcanic rock), and brick-faced concrete. Mortar was not used; instead, iron clamps held the stones together. An estimated 100,000 cubic meters of travertine stone was used, mined from the quarries of Tivoli, 20 miles away. The Colosseum is famous for being the world's largest amphitheatre.
©Igor Lypnytskyi–Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza—(600 AD), an archaeological site in Yucatan, Mexico—sits atop a limestone plateau, which is why many of the buildings are made from #limestone (#tikal, #sandstone and #tuff). Burnt-lime cement was used to create a form of concrete and was occasionally used as mortar for the structures. It is believed that Chichen Itza was founded and rose to prominence due to its close proximity to the Xtoloc cenote, an underground source of fresh water.
©Agnieszka Mordaunt–Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu—(1450) is a 7,970 ft fortress in Peru, built on the Andes Mountain ridge. Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings—each #granite stone precisely cut to fit together so tight, that no mortar was needed to keep the walls standing! The compound contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs. Most of the individual staircases were carved from one slab of stone.
©Jovyn Chamb–Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal—(1643) is a mausoleum on the riverbanks of Agra, India. Commissioned by an Indian emperor to be built in memory of his late wife. An Indo-Islamic architecture style was used, where earlier mausoleums were primarily red #sandstone, the Taj Mahal used ivory-white #marble inlaid with semi-precious stones.
©Thales Botelho De Sousa–Christ the Redeemer
Last on the list (most recently constructed) is Christ the Redeemer—(1931) in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The statue is 98 ft high, excluding its 26 ft pedestal, and arms that stretch 92 ft wide. The statue is made of reinforced concrete clad in a mosaic of thousands of triangular #soapstone tiles.
To say that stone as a building material has stood the test of time—is an understatement! It has contributed to many architectural wonders—both old and new, and offers a variety of colours, form and textures. Not only is natural stone sustainable and eco-friendly; it is a beautiful material that will last a lifetime.
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