The Acropolis voted first worthy rival to the seven wonders of the ancient world
January 2, 2006
The Acropolis in Athens made it, as did Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, China's Great Wall, the Colosseum in Rome, the Inca temple of Machu Picchu in Peru, Stonehenge and the Moai - the Easter Island statues.
Less immediately obvious choices in a final shortlist of 21 contenders for the New Seven Wonders of the World, announced in Switzerland yesterday, included the Kremlin in Moscow, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
More than 19 million voters have so far taken part in what its organisers call the world's first global voting campaign, nominating hundreds of sites they consider worthy rivals to the seven wonders of the ancient world named by Antipater of Sidon and Philon of Byzantium in 200 BC. The original selection was a must-see travel guide for well-heeled Athenians of the day: the monuments, including the Colossus of Rhodes and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, were all in the Mediterranean basin. Only the Pyramids of Giza remain. While they also made it safely on to yesterday's shortlist, many more recent wonders failed, among them the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building in Hong Kong, the Opera House and National Congress in Brazil, and Stari Most, the bridge in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina.
The New Seven Wonders initiative was launched in 2000 by the Swiss film producer, author and aviator Bernard Weber. Half of the profits from the project, which has secured lucrative TV deals, will go to restoring and preserving monuments and buildings around the world, including a plan to restore the giant Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
Yesterday's shortlist was drawn up from the 77 most popular sites by a panel of seven expert judges chaired by the former Unesco secretary general Federico Mayor, and including leading international architects such as Britain's Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando from Japan and Cesar Pelli from America.
After a series of TV specials on each of the sites and a year of public voting the winners will be announced on January 1, 2007, at an Olympic-style ceremony in a host city which has yet to be selected.
The project is not the first to attempt to come up with modern-day equivalents for the wonders of the ancient world. The American Society of Civil Engineers named the monuments that best demonstrate modern society's ability to achieve unachievable feats and reach unreachable heights - the Channel Tunnel, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Itaipu Dam in Brazil, the Panama Canal and Holland's North Sea protection works. None appeared on yesterday's shortlist.