Tag Archives: New Wonder of the World Runner-Up

New Wonder of the World Runner-Up: Timbuktu

Timbuktu City Wall

Timbuktu, an ancient city located in the western African nation of Mali at the edge of the Sahara, is a New Wonder of the World Runner-Up and a World Heritage Site.  The city was founded in the 11th century by the Tuareg Imashagan. Since Timbuktu was located where the Niger flows northward into the southern edge of the desert, it became a meeting point of Songhai, Wangara, Fulani, Tuareg and Arabs. Timbuku served as a trading center between west and north Africa with gold and slaves coming from the south and salt, cloth and horses from the north. 

Timbuktu, Mali, Africa

Timbuktu was also a center of learning where black and Sanhaja scholars gathered to study the vast store of books. Vast libraries were accumulated, copied, and traded. Later, the city became a center of Islamic learning with three universities and 180 Quanic schools.  Leo Africanus, a historian of the 16th century wrote about Timbuktu: 

There are many judges, doctors and clerics here, all receiving good salaries from King Askia Mohammed of the State of Songhay. He pays great respect to men of learning. There is a great demand for books, and more profit is made from the trade in books than from any other line of business.”

After the 14th century,Timbuktu was invaded and occupied by a series of conquerors.  Many scholars fled to Mauritania taking many of their manuscripts with them. A final invasion by Moroccans destroyed much of the town and the manuscripts.  Those scholars nor murdered were carried back to Marrakesh and Fes.  In 1893, with the colonization of West Africa by France,Timbuktu was brought under the French rule until Mali received her independence in 1960. Today, Timbuktu a city of about 50,000 residents is impoverished and is being overtaken by the desert. Several initiatives are being undertaken to revive the historic manuscripts still kept in the city.

 Tomorrow, Europabruke          Rita Bay

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New Wonder of the World Runner-Up: The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House, a masterpiece of  late modern architecture, is a New Wonder of the World Runner-Up and a World Heritage Site.   It is a world-class performing arts centre and a symbol of Sydney and Australia.  The Opera House was designed by Denmark’s Jørn Utzon using Sydney Harbor as a backdrop.  After cost overruns, he was replaced by Peter Hall who oversaw the construction which was completed in 1973.

Sydney Opera House

Utzon created a distinctive roof using sets of interlocking vaulted shells set upon a terraced platform and surrounded by terrace areas that functions as pedestrian concourses.  Each shell is composed of pre-cast rib segments radiating from a concrete pedestal and rising to a ridge beam. The shells are faced in glazed off-white tiles while the podium is clad in earth-toned, reconstituted granite panels.

 

Interior

The interior consists of two main halls arranged side by side, generally running north-south. The larger hall was the concert hall, the smaller was for opera.  The auditoria face south, away from the harbour with the stages located between the audience and the city. The Forecourt is a vast open space from which people ascend the stairs to the podium. The Monumental Steps, nearly 100 yards wide, lead up from the Forecourt to the two main performance venues.

Utzon returned in 1999 to establish a set of principles that would serve as a basis of future designs to maintain the architectural integrity.  He also oversaw the refurbishing of the Reception Hall.  For More Info: http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/

Tomorrow, Timbuktu   Rita Bay

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New Wonder of the World Runner-Up: Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument located near Salisbury in Wiltshire (England), is a Wonder of the World Runner-Up and World Heritage Site. The site has been of cultural significance for 7,000 – 8,000 years. The earthworks and ditch (the oldest sections of the monument dated to 3100 BC) surrounds a circle of large standing stones and the site of several hundred burial mounds. It was constructed in three phases of Bluestone, Sarsen, Welsh Sandstone. The blue standing stones (erected 2200 – 3000 BC) are the oldest part of the monument.

 

Aerial View

 

Stonehenge 1877

Stonehenge Restored

The Stonehenge Riverside Project identified the area as a burial ground far in its shrouded past. The true significance of the monument remains unknown. Proposed possibilities include a temple for sun or moon worship, a healing center, a calendar or a burial site. Early British investigators attributed the monument to Druids, however, the construction of Stonehenge predates the Druids by a couple of thousand years. Recent investigations have identified a large timber circle (oriented to the rising sun on the midwinter solstice) at Durrington Walls overlooking the River Avon and a second avenue leading to the Avon River, two miles away. Evidence of bonfires lining the Avon River and the avenues indicates a connection between the two. It has been suggested that Durrington Walls with its wooden henge was of the living and the cold stones of Stonehenge were of the dead with the avenues and rivers connecting the two along which processions were held. Today, the Stonehenge monument is closed to visitors around the monument which is maintained by several groups.

Tomorrow, Sydney Opera House Rita Bay

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New Wonder of the World Runner-Up: The Statue of Liberty

 The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York Harbor is a New Wonder of the World Runner-Up and a World Heritage Site.  It is a symbol of freedom and democracy and of the friendship of  the United States with France that goes back to the American Revolution.  The Statue of Liberty was planned to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence in 1876 but it was not dedicated until 1886. In France, public fees, various forms of entertainment, and a lottery were used to raise the money to fund the statue. In the United States, benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions, prize fights and private donations were used to fund the pedestal for the statue.

Sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi assisted by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) designed the Statue of Liberty in the Neoclassical style.  The Statue’s copper skin was attached to a massive iron pylon and secondary skeletal framework which allows the statue to move independently yet stand upright.  The statue is of a robed female figure (wearing a stola and pella of Roman goddesses) representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who lifts a torch and  holds a tabula ansata (a tablet representing the law) in her left hand inscribed with the date of the signing American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. The face was modeled after that of Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi, the sculptor’s mother.

In 1884 the Statue was completed in France and in June of 1885 shipped to the New  York Harbor in 350 individual pieces packed in 214 crates on board the French frigate “Isere.” It took four months to reassemble the Statue on the granite pedestal inside the courtyard of Fort Wood on Bedloe Island. 

The Statue of Liberty was maintained by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 when the care and operation of the Statue was placed under the War Department. After Fort Wood and the Statue of Liberty were declared a National Monument, the care and administration of the National Monument was transferred to the National Park Service and the island’s name was changed to Liberty Island. In 1986 after undergoing an $87 million restoration the Statue was re-opened to the public to celebrate the Statue’s centennial. 

Tomorrow, Stonehenge   Rita Bay

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