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Global village votes for new wonders

The Taj Mahal in India is just one of 25 sites nominated Keystone Archive

The seven wonders of the ancient world could soon be matched by seven modern architectural marvels.

This content was published on February 11, 2004 - 14:08

A Swiss filmmaker has launched a project on the internet, calling on people around the world to vote for the seven landmarks they consider the most significant of our time.

Over 2,000 years ago, the Greek engineer, Philon, compiled a list of what he considered the most important landmarks and monuments of his time. Today, just one of those sites remains - the Great Pyramid at Giza.

This was enough for Bernard Weber to launch his project, dubbed the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Weber says he wanted to breathe life into an old idea. “It’s reviving an ancient Greek concept, like the Olympic Games,” he told swissinfo.

Popular choices

With the help of Unesco, the United Nation’s cultural organisation, he compiled a list of 17 landmarks that could be considered new wonders. After putting the initial selection on the internet, another eight were added by popular demand.

The sites selected include the Taj Mahal, the Statue of Liberty and the Kremlin.

“There are emotions linked to these sites,” said Weber, ”they aren’t just meant to be stone monuments. Ideally, they should be structures with a certain myth attached to them.”

The filmmaker adds that not all the sites chosen are marvels of engineering, citing the leaning tower of Pisa as one such monument. “This doesn’t take anything away from its symbolic value.”

What he did try to avoid was becoming embroiled in religious and political considerations, even though some religious sites are included in the selection.

“The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was, for example, a church before it became a mosque,” Weber told swissinfo. “It stands as a symbol of faith, but also of tolerance.”

Symbolic value and an impact on people’s consciousness were key elements for Weber when selecting the sites.

“When the Sydney Opera House was built, it was the first time I heard about Australia,“ he said. “That landmark put a continent on the map.”

Chinese choice

Weber is touting his project as the first truly global internet vote. So far, over 15 million votes from more than 200 countries and territories have been cast.

The Chinese have been the most enthusiastic, pushing the Great Wall of China to the top of the list. But other countries are still in with a chance, as Weber points out.

“Everybody who votes has to select seven sites. People obviously vote for what they know best, but the process will eventually highlight one site on each continent.”

The filmmaker hopes the final list of sites will define the present age.

“They should become symbols of unity in the modern world,” he told swissinfo, “just as the original seven wonders were symbols of the ancient world.”

“If we can create new symbols respecting cultural diversity, we could help create a new global consciousness.”

swissinfo, Scott Capper

Wonders

The Ancient Wonders of the World were: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Statue of Zeus, and the Great Pyramid at Giza.
The preliminary selection for the new seven wonders includes: the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Timbuktu, the Kremlin and Red Square, the Roman Coliseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Easter Island statues, the Sydney Opera House, Machu Picchu, and Angkor Wat.

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wonders

The new seven wonders selection was launched in 2000 as a millennium project.

Its stated aim is to re-create a list of seven new Wonders of the World, mirroring the list drawn up by a Greek engineer 2,200 years ago.

Voting continues and the final selection should be announced on New Year’s Day 2006 as part of a worldwide television broadcast.

The backers of the project are also planning a series of programmes that will present all the sites nominated.

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